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Boko Haram:Troops rescue 998 captives as nine fighters die in gun battle

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•Gov cries out, says terrorists fleeing Sambisa for Taraba
•Why we established unit in Buhari’s town — Army

By Kingsley Omonobi and Joseph Erunke

Troops from 3 battalion of the Nigerian Army, at the weekend, reportedly rescued 998 captives after a fire-fight with Boko Haram in Borno State that claimed nine fighters of the Islamist group.

The army did not suffer any casualty in the fire-fight which lasted several hours, according to the spokesman, Brigadier General Sani Usman.

The fire-fight came on a day Governor Darius Ishiaku cried out that Boko Haram fighters fleeing Sambisa forest were relocating to Santai and Bali forests in Taraba State.

The army spokesman also explained that the security service was setting up a unit in Daura, Katsina State, the home town of President Muhammadu Buhari, in fulfilment of its implementation of the Order of Battle 2016 (ORBAT 2016) approved by the Army Council.

According to Usman, the 998 captive were rescued from three locations in Borno as follows: 125 at Ndufu, 802 at Muktu and 71 at Muzuri.

Women and children were said to be among the rescued persons.  “Although some of the terrorists fled in various directions on sighting the troops, the patrol team was able to neutralise nine terrorists, destroyed their Implosive Explosive Device (IED) making factory and rescued 998 persons,” he said.

The Director, Army Public Relations said, in a statement, “Interestingly, despite the heat of the battle, the troops also vaccinated all the rescued children under the age of 5 with polio vaccinations.

He went on: “Following confirmed information about the presence of some of Boko Haram terrorists in some villages around Ngala, troops from 3 Battalion, 22 Brigade Nigerian Army, on Friday, May 19, 2017, along with some Civilian JTF members, embarked on fighting patrol to the area. The patrol team had a fierce encounter with the terrorists at Ndufu which they decisively dealt with before proceeding to clear Muktu, as well as nearby communities within the area. Although some of terrorists fled in various directions on sighting the troops, the patrol team was able to neutralise nine terrorists, destroyed their Improvised Explosive Device (IED) making factory and rescued 998 persons.”

Usman, in a separate statement, said the decision to establish an army unit in Daura, Buhari’s home-town, was in fulfilment of the implementation of the Nigerian Army approved Order of Battle 2016 (ORBAT 2016) by the Army Council.

He added that the development was to further enhance security in parts of its area of responsibility in 1 Division.

The spokesman said the unit was named Fort Muhammadu Buhari Forward Operation Base.

According to him, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt General Buratai, commissioned the unit on Friday.

Meanwhile,Ishiaku, yesterday, claimed the influx of Boko Haram fighters flushed out from Sambisa by the military into Suntai and Bali forests both located in Taraba.

Speaking when he received the General Officer Commanding, 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General Adamu Abubakar, in Jalingo, the governor said intelligence reports showed that scores of the terrorists were relocating to the state.

“We are awfully disturbed; there are reports of fleeing (suspected) Boko Haram fighters from Sambisa forest that are now finding a safe haven in Suntai’s forest in the southern part of Taraba State,” he said.

“The Bali axis is notorious for kidnappers, armed robbers and rapists. It is also becoming obnoxious for cattle rustling and associated banditry activities.

“We are convinced of the presence of sleeper cells in our communities.”

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