Leadership (Abuja)

26 August 2014

Nigeria: Cameroon Disarms 480 Fleeing Nigerian Troops

Photo: Premium Times
Nigerian army.

Nigerian troops are forcing Boko Haram terrorists out of Gaborou Ngala which they had attacked on Sunday. The military has also explained why some troops were found in Cameroun.

The troops and some terrorists clashed at the border town of Gaborou Ngala on Sunday that forced some inhabitants of the town to flee to Cameroun.

Yesterday, the Defence Headquarters on its blog disclosed that its troops were already after the terrorists with a view to restoring peace and normalcy.

"Troops are repelling a group of terrorists who are trying to enter the country through Gamborou Ngala. A group of them who fizzled into the town are being pursued," it said.

The Defence Headquarters also explained the circumstance that led to some troops entering Cameroun: "The Nigerian troops that were found in Cameroun was as a result of a sustained battle between the troops and the terrorists around the borders with Cameroun which saw the Nigerian troops charging through the borders in a tactical manoeuvre.

"Eventually, they found themselves on Cameroonian soil. Being allies, the normal protocol of managing such incident demanded that the troops submit their weapons in order to assure the friendly country that they were not on a hostile mission."

The DHQ also disclosed that the affected troops had regained their freedom and were on their way back to the country.

"Following necessary discussions between Nigeria and Cameroun military authorities, the issues have been sorted out. Subsequently, the troops are on their way back to join their unit in Nigeria.

"The reference to the incident as a defection is therefore not appropriate, considering the discussion between the countries' military leadership and the series of contacts with the soldiers who have confirmed that they are safe."

Boko Haram Captures Gamboru-Ngala In Borno

Barely 24 hours after Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau resurfaced in a video claiming Gwoza town as "Islamic Caliphate", the sect made further advances in territorial grab by once more taking over Gamboru-Ngala, a key township on the border between Nigeria and Cameroon.

The attack by a heavily armed contingent of the terrorist sect marked the second time Boko Haram fighters targeted and seized parts of the town, forcing about 480 Nigerian troops to flee to neighbouring Cameroon.

Speaking with the Hausa service of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Cameroonian army spokesman Lt Col. Didier Badjek said the soldiers had been disarmed and were now being accommodated in schools.

"480 Nigerian soldiers have fled into Cameroon following fierce fighting with Boko Haram militants," Lt Col Didier said.

According to a resident, the insurgents first attacked and sacked an army barracks in Ngala before proceeding to Gamboru about 3 kilometers away. The sect took over the town without resistance from troops.

In a response to the attacks, the Nigerian Air Force jet later dropped a massive bomb in the middle of Gamboru after hovering for several minutes in the air. The jet then left while the militants began a house-to-house raid in Gamboru.

A contingent of Nigerian troops was later seen massing close to a bridge earlier destroyed by insurgents during their first attack on Gamboru.

A security source told the agency that Boko Haram desperately wants to seize full control of Gamboru-Ngala because the extensive area offers great strategic advantages.

"If they completely capture the township, Boko Haram will be able to use it to transact economic and military business," the source said.

He further explained, "The township will enable them [to] freely move arms into Nigeria in order to fortify their control of the seized territories they have declared an Islamic Caliphate."

Soldiers fighting Boko Haram in border town retreat into Cameroon

Officials of the Nigerian Army yesterday confirmed that soldiers were retreating into the Cameroonian territories as troops fighting Boko Haram ran out of ammunition at the border town of Gamboru Ngala in Borno State.

Earlier reports had it that the insurgents might have forced soldiers to flee to the Cameroonian side as Boko Haram overran them with superior firepower.

A top officer of the State Security Service in Maiduguri who would not want to be named in this report said soldiers who ran out of ammunition only retreated to a safer zone at the other side of the border as Boko Haram cut off the unit responsible for supplying them more ammunition. He said: "We cannot say they fled into Cameroon per se, but what happened was that, as the troops continued to engage them, they eventually needed additional ammunition, but those responsible for supplying them the needed bullets got ambushed on the way, and in order for them to get organized, they had to retreat to a safer zone outside the battle line which happened to be part of the Cameroonian territories."

The official said the fighting later continued and "the soldiers did well alongside the support of the Cameroonian soldiers at the borders".

Sources in Gamboru-Ngala who spoke with journalists in Maiduguri from Cameroon, using foreign lines, said the attackers came about 5am today and went straight to attack the military and police formations there.

Basuma Muhammed, a resident of Gamboru-Ngala who was among the hundreds of people that fled the attacked border community, said: "The attack was in two forms: initially the Boko Haram people came in not very plenty number, then the soldiers engaged them in a deadly shootout that caused many of them to die. But hours after the attack, a larger number of the Boko Haram gunmen arrived from the other side of the town and engaged the soldiers who could not stand their superior force and had to join us in running into Cameroon. It was like they used the first batch of their members as guinea-pigs to help them make the soldiers dissipate their arms before they later came in large force.

"Though the insurgents did not touch any civilian -- as some of them were telling us while we were fleeing that they were not out to deal with us now; that their concern was the soldiers, and after that they would come for us some day -- we still had to run for our lives," said Basuma, a local trader in the town.

Gamboru Ngala is located north-east of Borno State and about 180 kilometers away from Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.

A junior officer who spoke to newsmen in Maiduguri but would not want to be quoted also said that his colleagues who spoke with him from Cameroon said they had to flee because they ran out of ammunition and that "the calibre of weapons the terrorists came with far outweighed what our men were carrying".

A Cameroonian military spokesman, Didier Badjek, speaking with the BBC Hausa service, confirmed that "about 400 soldiers are currently on their side" and were helping to fight the terrorists in the ongoing battle.

Describing how the insurgents came attacking Gamboru-Ngala, Basuma said, "Vehicles mounted with big rifles and armoured tanks; we heard loud sounds like that of bombs and the shootings were deafening."

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