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Source: The Guardian

AFTER a fierce battle, the nation’s military has reclaimed Bama town, Borno State from the terror group Boko Haram. Boko Haram captured the area last Monday. But after aerial bombardments by the Nigerian Air Force (NAF)’s fighter jets, the military has reclaimed Bama. Sources confirmed this yesterday in Maiduguri, the state capital.

A military source said that the aerial bombardments were meant to destroy Boko Haram’s weapons and installations in the border town.

He said: “Our tactical aerial attacks to reclaim this town have been effective and yielding the desired results. This will enable the fleeing residents and villagers to return within the shortest period of time.”

But a source who was taking refuge in Maiduguri lamented the cost of the battle as it “took a heavy toll on civilian lives and property as the insurgents were said to be embedded with residents, allegedly used as human shields.”

On how Bama was reclaimed, the military source said: “The first attacks didn’t really make the expected impact but the second round of bombardments really injured those Boko Haram boys, which is why they are retreating now. They are now deeper into Bama, while our people are advancing and gaining territory. The Boko Haram boys are right now retreating.

“We are now dislodging them. You know, the air force has intensified its efforts; it brought F-7 and different kinds of aircraft. They really bombarded them.”

Another military source confirmed the advances of the armed forces in the battle of Bama but cautioned that it was no time for celebration yet, as the operation was still ongoing in several parts of the state.

He said the situation was “still very volatile” in Gwoza, Gambouru, Wulgo and one or two towns in northern Borno, were far from being liberated from the terrorists’ takeover in the last three months.

“We don’t want to say anything official but there are still fights going on in different places and on different scales, especially by air. This is a critical and unusual time,” the senior military officer said.

He also explained that apart from the aerial campaign in Bama, NAF had been effective in support of the ground forces with the launch of air attacks with different aircraft types, including helicopter gunships.

He said: “We are very deeply involved. You know what we are having here is a joint operation of the services, even though the navy may not be involved right now because of the terrain.

“First and foremost, apart from the airlift, we are equally supporting the ground forces; in most of the cases we even take the initiative. In modern warfare, the air force normally does the first dirty job, clear the road for the army to do the mop-up operations.

“Like I said, all our platforms are participating fully here. We have Alpha Jets, we have F7, Beechcraft, Mi35, which are the gunships, and then all our transport planes: C-130, the G TripleT. So we are participating fully and playing a significant role in that place.”

But a military intelligence source in Maiduguri said yesterday: “Gwoza is still a no-go area, I must tell you the truth, the town is firmly in hands of the Boko Haram terrorists. We are currently focusing on Bama before advancing to other areas in northern and southern parts of Borno State.”

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