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Friday, 9 January 2015

Damaturu Under Gunfire!

Damaturu the Yobe State capital was attacked by Boko Haram Insurgents, the capital came under the insurgents’ attack again, yesterday.

Residents told LEADERSHIP Weekend that the attack started just after 7pm when everyone was indoors as a result of the dusk to dawn curfew in the state capital. They said they could hear sounds of shooting and explosions from their homes.

A resident of the state capital, who confirmed the attack in a telephone interview yesterday, said troops had gotten wind of the impending attack on the state capital and together with the vigilante, had laid ambush on the insurgents who advanced to the capital through the Buni Yadi axis of the state.

He, however, said unfortunately, some of the insurgents after meeting a brick wall from the troops, made a detour and came into Damaturu through the Maiduguri-Potiskum axis.

Fighting had, however, subsided at the time of going to press, sources said.

Yesterday’s attack on the state capital follows a clash between troops and suspected Boko Haram members at Katarko village, in Gujba local government area of the state where dozens of sect members were reported killed and many items including ammunition, Toyota Hilux vehicles and foodstuff were recovered from the insurgents.

Katarko village is 24 kilometres away from Damaturu, the Yobe State capital, which came under attack but was repelled by security forces late last year.

A credible source stated that military troops supported by local hunters stormed Katarko village two days after an attack by suspected Boko Haram insurgents who killed scores and abducted over 20 young men and women.

The source confirmed that yesterday evening, troops and local hunters made their way to Katarko village which has been under siege in the last few days.

“Honestly speaking our soldiers were well prepared and had the weapons to confront the terrorists,” he stated.

“We got prior information since yesterday that the attackers were approaching Damaturu, the headquarters of the state, that’s how I escaped into the bush with some people. As we speak, there are gunshots going on,” he said.

Another resident who escaped told our correspondent over the phone that many people, including women and children, had fled to nearby bushes for safety.

“We cannot go back because the thing is becoming worse with gunshots from different directions. We will remain in the bush,” the resident stated.
There were no details of the attack as at press time but gunshots have subsided according to a resident.

Efforts to reach the Yobe State commissioner of police, Mr Marcus Danladi, proved abortive as his mobile phone was switched off.

Niger’s Withdrawal Of Troops Threatens Multinational Task force
The collapse of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) became imminent yesterday with the announcement by the government of Niger Republic that its troops may not return to Baga, a town in troubled Borno State which is presently under the control of insurgents.

The MNJTF was established in 1998 to checkmate banditry activities and also facilitate free movement of the member states of the Lake Chad Basin Commission across their common border. Republic of Chad had also earlier withdrawn their troops from the MNJTF base following increase in the activities of the Boko Haram sect.

The countries’ decision to withdraw their troops comes on the heels of the attack carried out by members of the sect on the MNJTF base located just outside Baga town in Borno State last Friday. The base was being manned by troops from Nigeria, Niger, and Chad to interdict criminal activity in the Lake Chad area.

The government of Niger yesterday said its troops are unlikely to return to Baga, the latest community in Borno state, to have fallen under the control of Boko Haram.

Until the attack, which led to casualties on the sides of both the insurgents and security forces, the MNJTF was coordinating its operations from its headquarters in Baga.

Speaking to the BBC yesterday, Niger’s foreign minister, Mohamed Bazoum, alleged that his country had withdrawn its security forces as far back as October.

“We have 50 soldiers there and decided to withdraw them after Boko Haram captured Malamfatori town in October and continued to operate in the area with impunity.

As you know, Baga is under the control of Boko Haram terrorists and unless the town is recaptured from them, we will not send back our troops. But we are still determined to work with our neighbours Cameroon, Chad and Nigeria to contain the situation – it is a problem for us all,” he said.

The chief of defence staff, Alex Badeh, had in an interview with State House correspondents on Tuesday, corroborated Bazoum’s claim.

“What has been happening is that they (Niger and Chad) have not contributed people to the point of Baga. Chad had people on their own side but I believe they have withdrawn. Niger had people with us. They too withdrew and left Nigeria only at the Multinational Joint Task Force Headquarters,”he said in the interview.

Following series of attacks, Baga has become deserted as residents have fled to neighbouring towns and bushes.

Sources confirmed yesterday that dozens of corpses still litter the streets of Baga after the attack which has been described as the most deadly of recent.

Meanwhile, Cameroon’s President Paul Biya has appealed for international military help to fight Islamist militant group Boko Haram, which this week threatened to step up its cross-border raids into the country from Nigeria.

The Nigerian group is part of a “global” movement that has attacked Mali, the Central African Republic and Somalia in its drive to establish its authority from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic, Biya said.

“A global threat calls for a global response. Such should be the response of the international community, including the African Union and our regional organisations,” he said in a New Year speech on Thursday to diplomats at the presidential palace.

He said he regretted that a regional military force against the Islamists had yet to be established.

At least 15 people were killed in an attack on a bus in north Cameroon on New Year’s Day.

A man purporting to be Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, threatened in a video posted online this week to step up violence in Cameroon unless it scrapped its constitution and embraced Islam.

Biya did not comment on the video in his speech.

The country has deployed more troops to its Far North region and has killed hundreds of the Islamist fighters. New laws aimed at stamping out the militants were also helping, Biya said.

“Although weakened by the losses it has suffered, our foe nonetheless remains capable of bouncing back,” he said.

Police kill Charlie Hebdo terror suspects
Two brothers, Said and Cherif Kouachi who have laid siege on France over the past two days, have been killed by the police.

The suspects murdered 12 people at the head office of Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris on Wednesday and advanced to several other parts of the country until they met their waterloo.

Earlier on Friday, the police closed in on them, as they took a hostage and moved to Dammartin-en-Goele, a town, 35km form Paris.

In Dammartin-en-Goele, they took hostages at a grocery store where commandos and elite police holed them up in a bout of explosions, which led to the freedom of many hostages.

According to AP, the market shooter had earlier threatened to hurt the hostages if police raided the building where the Kouachi brothers were holed up, but the hostages taken were freed unhurt.

As night fell, explosions rang out and heavily-armed commandos made their move on a small printing firm in Dammartin-en-Goele northeast of Paris, killing the two massacre suspects.

One police officer was injured.

The police also released a photo of the people responsible for the killing of a police woman and an attack on a municipal worker in Paris on Thursday.

They were identified as Amedy Coulibaly and Hayet Boumddiene.

While Coulibaly has been killed at a Paris grocery store, Biumddiene is still at large.

Credit: Leadership Newspaper Nigeria.

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