An ambush on a convoy transporting employees of a Canadian mining company in Burkina Faso killed 37 people on Wednesday, the deadliest attack in nearly five years of jihadist violence in the West African country.
The impoverished and politically fragile Sahel country has been struggling to quell a rising jihadist revolt that has claimed hundreds of lives since early 2015.
On Wednesday morning “unidentified armed individuals” ambushed five buses carrying local employees, contractors and suppliers of the Samafo mining company, said Saidou Sanou, the governor of the country’s Est Region.
As well as the 37 civilians killed, 60 were wounded, he said.
Mine owner Semafo Inc. said the five buses escorted by the military were approximately 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the Boungou gold mine in the Tapoa province when they were ambushed.
A security source said “a military vehicle that was escorting the convoy hit an explosive device”.
“Two buses carrying workers were then fired upon,” the source told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Burkina Faso’s government said the gunmen had conducted a “complex attack”, adding that defence and security forces had launched a relief operation and were searching the area.
It was the third deadly attack on Canadian firm Semafo, which operates two mines in Burkina Faso, in 15 months.
“We are actively working with all levels of authorities to ensure the ongoing safety and security of our employees, contractors and suppliers,” Semafo said in a statement, offering condolences to the families of the victims.
The mine itself, it added, remains secure and its operations had not been affected.
Two separate attacks on convoys carrying Boungou mine employees in August and December last year killed 11 people.
The company blamed “armed bandits” for last year’s attacks, and subsequently reinforced its armed escorts.
The Burkina Faso government this year asked mining companies to make their own arrangements to transport their employees, according to sources close to the miners.
Burkina Faso’s northern provinces have been battling a nearly five-year wave of jihadist violence that came from neighbouring Mali.
The attacks — typically hit-and-run raids on villages, road mines and suicide bombings — have claimed nearly 700 lives across the country since early 2015, according to an AFP toll.
Almost 500,000 people have also been forced to flee their homes.
The attacks have been claimed by a range of jihadist groups, including al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.
The country’s badly equipped, poorly trained and underfunded security forces have been unable to stem the violence, which has intensified throughout 2019 to become almost daily.
The Sahel region, including Burkina Faso’s neighbours Mali and Niger, has been afflicted by the violence despite the presence of the regional G5 Sahel force as well as French and US troops.
Burkina Faso’s previous deadliest attack was in January 2016, when jihadists raided the Splendid Hotel and a cafe in the capital Ouagadougou, killing 30 people, around half of them foreign nationals.
In August this year, the army suffered its worst attack with 24 soldiers killed in an assault on a base in Koutougou, near the Mali border.
On Monday, an attack on a base in northern Burkina Faso killed at least five gendarmes and five civilians.
Army Neutralize Several BHT/ISWAP in Borno State
The Army in Nigeria has said that its troops of Operation Lafiya Dole has neutralized scores of terrorist criminals in the month of May, where troops of Army Super Camp 6 and 7 conducted a long range fighting patrol on 11 May 2020 and cleared Adzunge and adjoining villages in the ongoing subsidiary Operation KANTANA JIMLAN.
The Coordinator Defence Media Operations, Maj. General John Enenche in a press release also stated that troops of Special Response Area Pulka with the Civilian Joint Task Force and hunters ambushed a set of the terrorists on 13 May 2020 along Pulka-Boko- Kirawa road where Eight (8) BHT/ISWAP fighters were killed while 10 Motorcycles and assorted food items were captured.
He further revealed that on 15 May 2020 troops of 192 Bn ambushed BHT/ISWAP fighters relocating from Sambisa forest to Mandara mountains due to heavy air and artillery bombardments. Five (5) of of them were killed, 3 AK 47 rifles and 17 rounds of 7.62mm special ammunition, one pair of BHT/ISWAP uniform, two cartridges and other clothing materials were recovered.
Elsewhere on the same day, troops of 22 Brigade deployed at Dikwa in conjunction with troops from Quick Response Area neutralized 2 terrorists who attempted to attack the troops location from Boboshe. Others fled with gunshot wounds. One AK 47 rifle and one magazine with 15 rounds of 7.62mm special ammunition were recovered.
Enenche stated that between 19 and 20 May 2020, following Gajigana attack, troops of 7 Division Garrison, 195 and 212 Battalions with Vigilantes exploited and discovered 5 terrorists killed in action. Five AK 47 rifles, 2 BHT gun trucks, 1 anti aircraft gun, 6 assorted magazines, 250 rounds of 12.7 mm, 61 rounds of 7.62 mm and 2 hand grenades were recovered.
In another operation, troops of Special Response Area Pulka with Civilian Joint Task Force and hunters, ambushed the terrorists on 20 May 2020 along Pulka-Dirgi-Banki general area. In the encounter 2 BHT/ISWAP fighters were killed while others escaped with One AK 47 loaded with 30 rounds of 7.62mm special ammunition was recovered.
Furthermore, on 21 May 2020 troops of 81 Division Task Force under 22 Brigade and 153 Task Force Bn with Civilian Joint Task Force cleared Mugdala village. During the operation 8 BHT/ISWAP terrorists were killed. One AK 47 rifle, One Dane gun, 3 BHT flags, 2 bicycles,2 Techno cell phones, 2 memory cards and other phone accessories were recovered.
Equally, troops of 202 Bn and Special Armoured Brigade Garrison Bama, based on credible intelligence sprung an ambush on 22 May 2020 at BHT/ISWAP crossing point along Bama Aulari road. Three (3) BHT/ISWAP terrorists were neutralised and others escaped with gunshot wounds. In all, a total of 35 BHT/ISWAP terrorists were killed in Sector 1 offensives between 11 and 22 May 2020.
Nigerian Army Strategies Against Terrorists, Effective, Says Institute
A report by the Institute for Peace and Counter-Terrorism Studies examining the operations of the Nigerian Military against the Boko Haram/ISWAP group in North-East Nigeria
The Institute for Peace and Counter-Terrorism Studies is a Think-Tank that coordinates intellectual activities for the promotion of global peace and prevention of terrorism across the globe. The Institute for Peace and Counter-Terrorism Studies has been at the vanguard of identifying the operational methods of the Nigerian Military in operation in North East Nigeria since 2009 when the Boko Haram group began a violent campaign in Nigeria.
Consequently, the Institute for Peace and Counter-Terrorism Studies commissioned a research into the operations of the Nigerian Military in North-East Nigeria for January to April, 2020 and presents the following report.
The Nigerian Military as a State Actor and efforts to keep the peace:
• RESCUE OPERATION FOR INNOCENT CITIZENS BEING HELD HOSTAGE:
The Institute for Peace and Counter-Terrorism Studies identified that the Nigerian Military had been actively involved in rescue operations across the North East involving the rescue of women and children, as well as older people that have been held hostage and used as human shields by the Boko Haram group.
A critical survey revealed that between 2018, 2019, and 2020 the Nigerian Military rescued a total number of 12,500 people from the captivity of Boko Haram in parts of Yobe and Borno State. From the figure, 80% were women and children, and 20% were aged people that needed urgent medical attention.
It was also observed that the Nigerian Military rescue operations were carried out in a fashion that has resulted in minimal casualties. The Nigerian Military also had a medical team that attended to those rescued from captivity before they are released to their various families.
• NEUTRALIZATION OF TERRORISTS AND CRIMINAL ELEMENTS:
The Nigerian Military have been actively involved in the war against Boko Haram in North-East Nigeria, and that has seen several casualties from both sides. However, it was observed that the Boko Haram fighters have been at the receiving end of a continuous military onslaught that has led to the neutralization of Boko Haram terrorists, as well as other criminal elements.
The sustained military operations against the Boko Haram group also led to the death of scores of Boko Haram fighters. The Institute for Peace and Counter-Terrorism Studies identified that over 350 Boko Haram fighters were killed in the past month in North-East Nigeria, and over 500 sustaining life-threatening injuries.
• COUNTER-OFFENSIVE CAMPAIGN:
It was observed that the counteroffensives by the Nigerian Military had yielded positive results. The casualty figures recorded so far has been on the low compared to previous years where the Nigerian Military recorded heavy casualties from their operations.
The Nigerian troops have been able to sustain the tempo with the introduction of additional counter-terrorism methods, as well as a boost in their military hardware that gave them the edge and with superior firepower over the Boko Haram group.
It was also observed that the operational strategy of the Nigerian Military have indeed placed the Boko Haram fighters on the brink of defeat baring all unforeseen circumstances. As at concluding the research work, it was established that 762 Boko Haram fighters lost their lives in battle with the Nigerian troops led by the Military Chief in Nigeria, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai.
In the course of the research work, it was observed that the military chief, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai has been leading the battle against Boko Haram. The military chief coordinates the day-to-day operations and offensives against the Boko Haram terrorists.
It was also observed that the presence of the military chief, Tukur Buratai has served as a source of motivation to the troops and this has been responsible for the gains recorded by the Nigerian Military in the war against Boko Haram in North-East Nigeria.
The presence of the military chief has continued to serve the purpose of motivation in the operations of the Nigerian Military in North-East, Nigeria.
The Non- State Actors (Boko Haram/ISWAP)
• Loss of confidence by Shekau and his commanders:
In the course of extensive research in the operations of the Boko Haram/ISWAP, it was identified that the camp of the Boko Haram/ISWAP has been polarized along various lines. There are those opposed to the continued stance of Abubakar Shekau and want a truce with the Nigerian Military. There are also those who see the casualties as a sign that Abubakar Shekau has misled them so far, and there is a need for him to step down from his responsibilities as their supreme leader.
This situation has heightened the tension in the Boko Haram camp and further given the Nigerian troops the edge with sustained military offensives.
• FATIGUE IN BATTLE AND LACK OF COHESION:
It was observed that the Boko Haram/ISWAP camp is experiencing fatigue which was occasioned by long hours of battle with the Nigerian Military. The fact that the Nigerian Military boast of more modern and advanced military hardware and tanks puts the Boko Haram fighters in terrible strain and the consequent result has been fatigue in battle and lack of cohesion.
It was gathered that this situation has led to the Boko Haram/ISWAP group splitting into many factions with most of the commanders that hitherto held sway no longer ready to continue.
• POOR MANAGEMENT OF AVAILABLE RESOURCES AND GREED
Our team of researchers was able to gather that the Boko Haram/ISWAP group is having difficulties assessing funds and logistics. The group is struggling with the availability of limited resources at their disposal, and this has put a strain on their operational effectiveness.
There is also uproar amongst Boko Haram members that Abubakar Shekau is mismanaging funds meant for the execution of their offensive against the Nigerian Military as well as their allowances that have remained unpaid for a long time.
It was also gathered that Abubakar Shekau has been soliciting to his fighters not to down their arms in these critical times. However, the various pleas seem not to have been able to pacify the bulk of the fighters that have remained delusional zed daily.
• REGIONAL COOPERATION.
The Boko Haram crisis has assumed a regional dimension and this lead to the revamping of the Multinational Joint Task Force comprising of troops from Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon. This regional collaboration has put the Boko Haram group in a dire situation as most of their routes for receiving logistic supplies have been taken over by troops from the Multinational Joint Task Force.
The Nigerian government, by all indices the most significant contributor to the operations of the Multinational Joint Task Force in terms of funding and troops. This commitment from the Nigerian government has enabled the operational effectiveness of the Multinational Joint Task Force.
The contribution of Chad has been felt in recent times. The Chadian authorities on their part were able to secure the borders between Nigeria and Chad as well as the Lake Chad basin region. This action has deprived the Boko Haram group the luxury of launching attacks in Nigeria and retreating to the Islands on the Lake Chad Basin region from where they hitherto regroup and receive logistics supplies from external sources.
The Nigerien authorities have shown commitment by deploying thousands of fighting troops to the operations of the Multinational Joint Task Force. Nigerien troops have also fortified the borders between Niger and Nigeria from the Lake Chad Basin region.
The Cameroonian government has also contributed troops and resources towards the success of the operations of the Multinational Joint Task Force. Tremendous efforts have been made to secure Boko Haram cells located in the Mandara Mountains where they recruit and train their fighters.
The Institute for Peace and Counter-Terrorism Studies after extensive scrutiny of the issues in the war against the Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists concludes that the operational strategies of the Nigerian Military have proven to be effective in neutralizing the threats posed by the Boko Haram/ISWAP group.
We wish to state that if this tempo is sustained, the Boko Haram/ISWAP group might eventually surrender as the odds are against it.
The Institute for Peace and Counter-Terrorism Studies commends the efforts of the Nigerian Military led
Boko Haram Continue to Suffer Great Defeat
The Nigerian Army has consolidated on its recent victories against the dreaded Boko Haram as they continue to decimate the activities of members of the sect and recovered arms and ammunition during the encounter in different parts of the country.
In a statement release to newsmen on Monday, the Coordinator Defence Media Operations, Major General John Enenche described the victories of the troops against the insurgents and other criminal elements as a clear demonstration, loyalty and patriotism of the gallant troops of Operation Lafiya Dole as they inch towards the final and decisive defeat of the insurgents.
He said on 13 May 2020, troops of Strong Response Area Pulka in conjunction with elements of Borno State Civilian Joint Task Force executed a successful ambush operation against some marauding Boko Haram criminals along Pulka – Bokko – Kirawa Road about 17 Kilometers from Pulka Town in Gwoza LGA of Borno State. At the end of the well executed ambush, 6 Boko Haram criminals were neutralized while 10 bicycles, food items and other logistics were captured. Most importantly, the troops recovered a piece of paper containing the contacts of suspected Boko Haram collaborators.
Relatedly, Gen. Enenche said on 12 May 2020, troops of Strong Response Area Ngoshe, while on a clearance operation to Response Area Bokko Kudele made contact with some Boko Haram criminals. The criminal insurgents fled up to Mandara Mountains due to the troops’ overwhelming firepower. Nevertheless, the gallant troops destroyed the criminals’ enclave as well as the logistics therein.
Similarly, the statement said in one of the most devastating onslaughts against Boko Haram/Islamic State’s West Africa Province’s identified hideouts, on 11 May 2020, troops of Army Super Camp Malam Fatori in conjunction with elements of Niger Republic Special Forces supported by the Air Component of Operation LAFIYA DOLE and Niger Republic Intelligent Surveillance and Reconnaissance platforms conducted Artillery Fire Mission to Tumbun Fulani with top-notch precision and lethal fire on targets. Subsequent Battle Damage Assessment reported heavy casualty inflicted on the terrorists as well as the destruction of their combat vehicles and logistics base.
Other parts of the release reads:
Elsewhere in the North Central Region, on 13 May 2020, acting on credible information, troops of Operation SAFE HAVEN swooped on a suspected militia group’s armoury at Boltak Village in Kadarko District of Wase LGA of Plateau State. Although no arrest was made
nonetheless, the vigilant troops discovered one AK 47 Rifle, one G3 Rifle, one AK 47 Rifle magazine loaded with 3 rounds of 7.62mm Special ammunition and one G3 Rifle magazine loaded with 2 rounds of 7.62mm NATO ammunition”.
Relatedly, on 14 May 2020, troops of Sectors 1 and 2 of Operation WHIRL STROKE with the support of a Nigerian Air Force helicopter conducted clearance operations simultaneously along 2 Axis in Guma and Logo LGAs of Benue State. The operation successfully dislodged armed herdsmen who have been terrorising the general area.
Also, earlier on 12 May 2020, troops of Operation WHIRL STROKE deployed in Guma LGA of Benue State trailed a group of bandits to their make shift Camp close to River Benue who were believed to have attacked Agasha Village killing 2 innocent residents. However, on reaching the criminals’ hideout, troops engaged and neutralized 4 of the assailants as well as recovered 2 AK 47 Rifles, 2 AK 47 Rifle magazines and 65 rounds of 7.62mm Special ammunition.
In the South – South Region, on 12 May 2020, troops of 146 Battalion (Main) deployed in Bonny Island raided and destroyed an identified pirates/militants hideout in Arugbanama Community in Bonny LGA of Rivers State. During the operation, the gallant troops exchanged fire with the militants/pirates resulting in the neutralization of 2 of the criminals as well as recovery of one AK 47 Rifle, one Pump Action Rifle, one Pistol, 7 AK 47 Rifle magazines, one Pistol magazine, one round of 7.62mm NATO ammunition, 102 rounds of 7.62mm Special ammunition, 3 rounds of 9mm ball ammunition, one live cartridge, one camouflage wear, one head gear, one speed boat and 4 – 85 Horse Power engines.
Similarly, in the wee hours of 12 May 2020, troops of 3 Battalion (Rear) while on routine patrol arrested a suspected criminal named Stephen Eboje along Warri-Sapele Road in Uvwie LGA of Delta State and recovered one AK 47 Rifle from the suspect.
Meanwhile, the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusufu Buratai who has been in the Theatre with the troops since the month of March this year congratulates the gallant troops for their resilience, courage and dedication to the noble cause of defending our fatherland against the criminal elements. He further encourages them to continue to be steadfast and ruthless against the enemies of our nation.
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