21st December, 2013
.Nigeria’s military stages a battle of honour after Boko Haram militants’ attack barracks in Bama
More information is emerging about the real damages caused by Boko Haram militants who launched a daring raid on Nigeria’s military barracks in Bama, Borno state.
Latest report said the dare-devil Boko Haram fighters snatched wives and children of soldiers during their three-hour siege on the barracks, located in the border town with Cameroon.
The number of their hostages has not been given by the military authorities, but agency report said the embarrassed military has surrounded the village of Abbaram, near Bama, where they thought the Boko Haram fighters are holding their captives. Boko Haram fighters stormed the barracks in the town of Bama early on Friday, spraying it with bullets before torching the compound.
Several Bama residents told AFP the insurgents also abducted the soldiers’ wives and children during the attack.
Military spokesman Mohammed Dole, did not comment on the report. Defence spokesman Chris Olukolade could not be reached for comment.
Bama residents said the Boko Haram gunmen fled to the nearby village of Abbaram after the attack, where the military sent hundreds of troops on Saturday.
“The soldiers have besieged the village and more troops are deploying in hundreds,” said Ibrahim Idris.
“Nothing is happening yet but from the huge number of troops deploying and the large number of Boko Haram in the village one can imagine what may happen”.
Karim Bunu, who also lives in Bama, described Abbaram as a village of some 250 people.
“We are afraid of what will happen to the people of Abbaram because whichever way one looks at it, they are facing a serious security threat,” he told AFP.
A third resident, who requested anonymity, said the Islamists were holding in Abbaram the “women and children of soldiers,” who had been kidnapped during the Friday attack, in an account supported by both Idris and Bunu.
In November, Human Rights Watch reported that Boko Haram has increasingly used kidnappings as a tactic, abducting scores of women and children this year.
After staging an attack on the military, the insurgents typically flee to far away camps to evade pursuing troops, but their escape was slowed on Friday by fighter jets which dropped bombs on the major routes leading out of Bama, according to the military and witnesses.
“I counted 18 burnt all-terrain vans belonging to the Boko Haram gunmen pulverised by military jets,” said the unnamed resident, who identified himself as a member of a military-backed vigilante force which has formed in the northeast to fight the insurgents.
Air force jets continued to fly over the region on Saturday, residents said.
The Bama attack was the second major Islamist assault on the army this month, casting further doubt on official claims that the rebels have been weakened by a seven-month-old military offensive in the northeast.
Boko Haram’s four-year insurgency, which has killed thousands, is aimed at creating a strict Islamic state in Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north. The group has been declared a terrorist organisation by the United States.
In press statements issued yesterday, the military spokesman only confirmed the attacks, but did not give details of casualties, hostages and property damaged.