Military, B’Haram battle for control of Borno community

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Adelani Adepegba and Kayode Idowu

BOKO Haram  in Borno State on Monday pushed the military back for over 12 hours, destroying facilities in the Dikwa Local Government Area of the state.

Sources revealed that the terrorist group attacked the town around 6pm, pushing out the military and were in total control until Tuesday when the military reinforced and engaged them.

According to many sources, in the period the insurgents were in control, many buildings were torched and many humanitarian workers were abducted.

A source within the humanitarian community, while speaking with our correspondent, said, “There are serious safety concerns for tens of aid workers, including 20 in the humanitarian hub and others in NGO facilities across Dikwa LGA following repeated attacks by Boko Haram.”

He observed that the insurgents took control of the area since evening of March 1.

The source said the insurgents entered Dikwa town from the Marte LGA area (where they had ramped up presence since mid-February) around 6pm, clashing with military personnel who reportedly withdrew from their base after a one-hour gun duel.

He revealed that the insurgents later proceeded to the humanitarian hub firing gunshots that forced the mobile policemen at the facility to flee.

It was learnt that the insurgents entered the hub premises, forcing about 20 aid workers and five local security personnel to moved to the bunker where they spent the night in panic.

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He disclosed that the hub facilities and assets were damaged by the insurgents who also set ablaze the largest health facility in the town.

The source lamented that other NGO facilities (including accommodation and offices) were also targeted with some unspecified number of staff feared trapped.

As of the time of filing this report on Tuesday afternoon, the source said, “Although the military deployed additional personnel and assets to the area on the morning of March 2, the clash was still ongoing.”

It was, however, gathered that the military was gaining ground and had been able to release the aid staff trapped in the bunker and taken them to military facilities.

Sources within the humanitarian community also told our correspondent that air services (helicopters) by the United Nations into some of the towns of Borno State had been suspended.

It had been reported that the situation in Dikwa LGA hosting over 100,000 IDPs and host community population had deteriorated since mid-February when Boko Haram took over neighbouring Marte, forcing an influx of nearly 4,000 civilians to Dikwa.

Meanwhile, the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator of United Nations in Nigeria, Mr. Edward Kallon, in a statement on Tuesday said, “I am gravely preoccupied by reports of an ongoing violent attack by non-state armed groups in Dikwa, Borno State, during which several aid facilities were directly targeted.

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“The attack started last night and, as information is still coming through, I am outraged to hear the premises of several aid agencies and a hospital were reportedly set ablaze or sustained damage.

“This violent attack will affect the support provided to nearly 100,000 people who are desperately in need of humanitarian assistance and protection, particularly as the COVID-19 pandemic risks spreading in Borno State.”

Troops stoppage B’Haram from infiltrating Dikwa – Army

However, the Army in its reaction by the Director Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Mohammed Yerima, said the insurgents’ attempt at infiltrating Dikwa was foiled by Nigerian troop.

Yerima, who disclosed this in a statement on Monday, said, “The troops of Operation Lafiya Dole have decisively routed elements of Boko Haram terrorists and their Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) counterpart who attempted to infiltrate and attack Dikwa town in the Dikwa LGA of Borno State.”

“The terrorists, who stormed the town in an unconfirmed number of gun trucks and motorcycles, were visited with heavy bombardment and overwhelming firepower  by troops of 81 Task Force Battalion with reinforcement from other formations of the Nigerian Army and aided by air support of Air Task Force Operation Lafiya Dole.

“The terrorists attempted to invade the town to loot food items and other logistics having got wind of the recent food distribution to residents of the town by the state governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum.”

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Troops put out fire at army headquarters

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army headquarters, Abuja, on Tuesday recorded a minor fire outbreak.

The fire, which reportedly resulted from sparks from some live wires at about 10.15 am, was subsequently put out by the fire service and troops.

The Director, Army Public Relations, Brig. Gen. Mohammed Yerima, disclosed this in a statement titled, ‘Fire incident at Army headquarters.’

The statement read, “There was a minor fire incident that occurred today, March 2, 2021 at Army Headquarters Abuja. The incident which happened around 10.15am was as a result of minor electrical fault which led to the outbreak of the fire.

“A combined team from the Nigerian Army, Navy, Airforce and Federal Fire Service had since put out the fire. No casualty was recorded during the incident and normal routine activities have since continued.”

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