Fierce fighting raged yesterday between the military and the Boko Haram insurgents in a large swathe of Adamawa State yesterday, even as Cameroun said it had killed “more than 100” members of the sect during an attempted incursion into its territory.
Reports from Mubi said that the insurgents last night attacked the hometown of the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, in Vimtim, Adamawa State. Vintim is barely 30km from Mubi.
It was learnt that the sect launched attacks last night on the community and reports indicated that the residence of the CDS was not spared.
However, sources in Yola said the terrorists were repelled from entering the CDS residence, but military reinforcements sent in yesterday could not save the village from falling into the hands of the insurgents.
Further report said Nigerian Army troops, led by Brig. Gen. J.S. Zaruwa, have retaken Bazza in Michika local government area of the state, which was temporarily under the control of the sect.
However, over 14 soldiers were reportedly killed in the counter offensive to retake the town, which is also the home town of Gen. Zaruwa, while over 50 insurgents were reportedly killed by the military.
It was learnt that successful attack on the insurgents was made possible by Nigerian Air Force jets, which bombed their command centers in Bazza.
“It was after our air force jets bombarded their strongholds mounted on roads that the troops moved in on a clearing mission,” an officer revealed.
A senior military source confirmed to journalists that Bazza was retaken after a fierce battle in which soldiers killed several Boko Haram militants.
“Our soldiers circled Baza and engaged the terrorists in a serious battle. We have now recaptured Bazza after defeating the resistance of Boko Haram militants in the township,” he said.
The insurgents, according to sources have been attacking more communities, including Shuwa, Kirchinga, Askira Uba.
The insurgents had earlier taken over Michika and Madagali.
The spate of attacks has forced many people to flee their homes. Although, there are no official figures from government about the number of persons displaced as a result of the violence, it was however estimated that over 300,000 have been displaced from their settlements in the past four days.
The mass exodus has been linked to the movement of soldiers along with their military hardware out of the zone, a development which the state acting governor also tried to address in his broadcast urging citizens not to panic and mistake troop movement in and around the affected areas as a retreat but the normal troop rotation as events unfold.
A soldier, who confided in our reporter said about 200 of his colleagues have retreated from Mubi, with most of them finding their way back to Gibson Jalo Cantonment, 23rd Armoured Brigade in Jimeta, Yola.
The Emir of Mubi, Alhaji Abubakar Isa, our correspondent learnt has been whisked away by his subjects, who fear for his safety.
The action of the palace guards to relocate the emir, it was gathered, was taken without his consent. He had opted to remain in his domain not minding the threat of possible invasion of the commercial border town by the insurgents.
Many residents in the Northern Senatorial zone of the state have been fleeing Michika, Madagali and some communities located in the mountainous areas of Hong local government to the state capital.
A fleeing resident, who has been taking refugee at the top of hills, disclosed in a telephone interview, that many people are now trapped in Michika, Bazza and Shuwa.
He said: “We are in trouble now. Many people are trapped; some could not get out of their homes. These people (Boko Haram) are everywhere hoisting their flags, others are brandishing their guns.
The state acting governor, Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri made an emergency broadcast yesterday, shortly after visiting Lt. Col. Adeboye Obasanjo, the injured son of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, in an attempt to halt the panic occasioned by the prevailing security situation in some parts of the state.
Fintiri said that as part of steps being taking by the government to grapple with brewing humanitarian crisis confronting the state, the Adamawa State Emergency Management Agency, ADSEMA has been directed to liaise with the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA to immediately identify hapless victims and provide them with all possible relief.
The governor called for calm among the citizens of state, noting that he had assurances from the military high command of their “immediate response to halt the incursions within the shortest possible time.”
“I hereby call for calm in the affected areas and that no one should panic, raise false alarms and rumours capable of further throwing innocent people into confusion.
“I passionately appeal to all citizens in Mubi and surrounding villages to remain where they are and not move out as the military and security that are there are on high alert and ready to defend the area,” Fintiri said in the broadcast.
The acting governor on a visit to the Obasanjo at the Federal Medical Centre, FMC, Yola, commended the officers of the Nigeria Army for their effort in containing insurgency in the state.
Obasanjo sustained injuries in a battle to repel insurgents in Bazza.
The governor said the people are proud of the soldiers who have lost their lives while defending their fatherland.
Fintiri was received at the hospital by the Chief Medical Director, Dr Aliyu Danburam, who said younger Obasanjo was recuperating and in stable condition.
The Chief Information Officer of FMC, Mr. Adamu Dodo, has confirmed that the injured soldier is responding to treatment.
“Yes it’s true that Obasanjo’s son, Adeboye Obasanjo is recuperating after minor surgery and he is in stable condition in the hospital,” he said.
Meanwhile, Cameroonian military has killed “more than 100” Boko Haram fighters during an attempted incursion by the Islamist insurgents, while across the border thousands continued to flee the group’s advances.
The Cameroonian army dealt “a severe setback” to Boko Haram during clashes in the north of the country on Saturday, government spokesman, Issa Tchiroma Bakary, said in a statement read out on state radio.
The statement, which could not be immediately verified, said Boko Haram militants fired two shells on the town of Fotokol in Cameroun’s northern tip, on the border with Nigeria.
“There were no casualties reported on the Cameroonian side,” the statement said.
“Our defence forces responded vigorously with mortar fire aimed at the positions held by units of the Boko Haram terrorist group. The Cameroonian response resulted in over 100 deaths among the aggressors.”
The Boko Haram militants were pushed back towards the Nigerian border town of Gamboru Ngala, separated only by a footbridge from Cameroun, which they seized over a week ago.
Meanwhile, panicked residents continued to flee their homes in northeast part of the country on Monday in fear of Islamist attacks.
The exodus from Mubi, the commercial hub of Adamawa state, began on Sunday after the insurgents seized the town of Michika around 40 kilometres (25 miles) away the day before.
Boko Haram has seized control of a number of towns in Yobe, Borno and Adamawa states in recent weeks, prompting fears the government could soon lose control of the entire region.
“With the fall of Michika into the hands of Boko Haram, Mubi is seen as their next destination,” Mubi resident, Habu Bala, told a news agency.
The fear of attack grew on Monday after the families of police officers were ordered to evacuate, said resident Muhammad Maishanu.
The Nigerian military has appeared largely powerless to stop the militants’ advance.
Residents in Michika said air force jets were circling above the town but were unable to strike because the insurgents had taken cover in civilian houses.
In Mubi, where thousands have taken refuge in recent weeks, locals were thronging the main bus depot on Monday.
“The increasing large number of passengers far exceeds available vehicles, which has resulted in commotion as people jostle and struggle to secure seats on available buses and taxis. They just want to get out,” said Samaila Ado, who works at the coach station.
The United States last week said it was alarmed by reports that Boko Haram had captured the Borno town of Bama and the possibility of an attack on the state capital, Maiduguri, 70 kilometres away.
The spokesman of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Maiduguri, Gideon Obasogie, said he fled the town on Sunday.
“Thousands of others have also left Mubi for Yola for fear of attack. The Boko Haram militants are just capturing everywhere,” he told a news agency.
“The Catholic church in Maiduguri diocese is gradually crumbling. A priest in Michika had to scale a fence yesterday to avoid being killed. He had to pass through some bush and mountains before he finally made it to Yola.”
Security fears prompted the indefinite closure of the Adamawa State University in Mubi, according to a university statement.
In October 2012, Boko Haram fighters were blamed for shooting dead at least 40 polytechnic students at their off-campus hostels in the town.
The military has claimed it recaptured Bama in ground and air offensives, killing 50 insurgents in a battle near the town at the weekend.
Independent confirmation was not immediately available and in an audio message, a purported Boko Haram spokesman named Abu Zinnira refuted the claim.
The insurgents threatened to add to their territorial gains, he said.
It was not possible to verify the authenticity of the recording but a news agency received the message from the same channels as previous Boko Haram videos.