By Abdulkareem Haruna
The Nigerian military says the Tuesday attack that claimed the lives of at least three operatives of the Civillian-JTF in Konduga town of Borno State was possible because Boko Haram used an aged man who disguised as a weak and feeble traveller.
The spokesman of the military operation in the North-east, Operation Lafiya Dole, Onyema Nwachukwu, said members of the Civillian-JTF on a stop and search duty in Konduga were deceived by the old man whom they allowed to inch too close to their post for a check of the content of the bag he was carrying.
It has been a usual practice of the Boko Haram to deploy mostly teenage boys and girls in carrying out suicide bombing attacks.
But unknown to the vigilante members, the aged man was actually a Boko Haram member on a mission to carry out attack in Konduga, a community 35km from Maiduguri.
He detonated the explosive devise contained in the bag, which resulted in killing himself and three of the Civilian-JTF operatives.
“The elderly man pretending to be weak and feeble was being searched by men of the Civilian Joint Task Force, when he detonated a suicide vest contained in a bag he was carrying,” Mr Nwachukwu said.
“Unfortunately three Civilian Joint Task Force members paid the supreme price in the incident. The wounded have been evacuated for medical attention.
“Our hearts go out to those who lost their lives as well as those injured in the callous attack.”
Mr Nwachukwu, an army colonel, said the Konduga incident “points to the variation in the tactics of the Boko Haram terrorists in their uncanny resolve to deceptively infiltrate communities and towns to mindlessly attack vulnerable and soft targets.
“Aside using women and children, the terrorists are now engaging the aged in suicide bombing as witnessed in this recent incident.”
He warned members of the public to cast their net of suspicion beyond looking for dirty and scraggy looking individuals as suspected suicide bombers.
“They (Boko Haram) have also been detected to now appear clean and well dressed to look unsuspicious and enable them gain access to targets marked for suicide attack. Some of the terrorists have also been found to now conceal their suicide vests by wearing it on the thigh rather than the waist to appear less bulky and evade detection when searched.
“In view of these developments, members of the public are please urged to be vigilant and discerning as they go about their normal daily routines and activities.”
Meanwhile, Mr Nwachukwu said a combined force of the Operation Lafiya Dole and the Cameroonian Defence Forces “have killed 15 Boko Haram insurgents in separate encounters in Southern Lake Chad Basin.
“Troops neutralised the insurgents whilst conducting operations to clear remnants of Boko Haram insurgents in the Lake Chad Islands and surrounding villages of northern Borno yesterday.
“Troops dislodged the insurgents from their hideout after a fierce battle, killing 11 insurgents in Gomaran village of Southern Lake Chad Basin.”
“In two other separate encounters with the fleeing insurgents in Firgi and Moula, both in Bama and Dikwa Local Governments Areas of Borno State, troops also ambushed and neutralised 4 Boko Haram insurgents who were fleeing troops ‘ onslaught in the northern fringes.”
He added that the “clearance operations also led to the recovery of one single barrel gun, one Dane gun and one locally made pistol. Other items recovered from the dislodged insurgents include 4 Motorcycles, motorcycle spare parts, 2 tricycles, 6 pumping machines, and 2 power generating sets. Additionally, the valiant troops captured 2 Boko Haram flags, a pair of camouflage uniform, a pair of combat boots, a camera, a bag of mechanical tools and medications.”
“Four men, 33 women and 16 children were rescued by the troops from the insurgents’ hideouts . The rescued hostages are currently being profiled for subsequent hand over to officials of the Internally Displaced Persons Camp for documentation and administering.”