Cameroon seizes Nigeria-bound arms
Suicide bombers hit Army post in Borno
Cameroonian authorities have seized a large cache of weapons bound for Nigeria to be used by insurgents, the Defence Headquarters said in Abuja yesterday.
The seizure was a boost in the “collaborative efforts” by the two countries towards curbing the activities of the Boko Haram sect, military spokesman Major General Chris Olukolade said.
Cameroon was previously accused of not helping Nigeria to nab insurgents who are believed to be maintaining hideouts in that country.
Nigerian authorities have said insurgents routinely cross over into Cameroon after perpetrating mayhem here, making it impossible for the military to get them.
Recently, Nigeria announced reaching some sub-regional agreements with Cameroon and other nations towards joint efforts at containing the insurgency.
“The resolve for collaborative efforts in fighting terrorism in the sub-region got a boost recently when the Cameroon security forces made a huge seizure of arms apparently meant for use by terrorists operating in Nigeria last weekend,” Olukolade said in a statement yesterday.
“Over 288 rifles and 35 rocket-propelled guns as well as 35 locally made IEDs (improvised explosive devices) were recovered after a fierce encounter at Abugasse, Cameroon, close to the Chadian border.
“Other weapons recovered included pistols, mortar bombs, submachine guns and various calibres of ammunitions following the arrest of two suspects believed to be major arms suppliers to the terrorists in Nigeria. They were nabbed in Abugasse near the Chadian border with Cameroon. Also in their possession were over 50 Cameroonian Passports as well as a Toyota Jeep.”
Olukolade said Cameroonian authorities recently pledged to back Nigeria’s counterterrorism efforts.
He said renewed offensive by Nigerian troops “have continued to record series of arrests of terrorists and recovery of arms especially close to the nation’s border with Cameroon. Apart from arms recovered following disclosure from captured terrorists lately, more arms have been captured in the ongoing offensive in different fronts.
“The arrest at a check point of a terrorist driving in a green Peugeot vehicle with registration Number Bauchi 264 AA heading to Maiduguri from Alagarno during the weekend, led to the recovery of 15 AK47 rifles and 12 magazines and various yet to be assembled rifles.”
The Defence spokesman said troops
have stepped up their offensive at the Alagarno area and the Sambisa forest since Monday.
“Apart from several dead terrorists, 14 vehicles which were either being used for operation or hidden by the terrorists in various parts of the forests and theatres have been destroyed. Various calibres of weapons and ammunitions were also recovered in the course of fighting and subsequent cordon and search of the areas.”
Suicide bombers hit Maiduguri again
But as the military claimed successes in their operations, suicide bombers yesterday struck at a military checkpoint in Maiduguri, killing an unspecified number of people.
Authorities said five soldiers were wounded, but a Daily Trust correspondent reported that some soldiers might have also been killed in the attack.
The incident happened at about 1pm when suspected Boko Haram members rammed two separate cars into two military patrol vehicles at a major checkpoint in the outskirts of Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
Witnesses said two additional vehicles, laced with explosives, were intercepted by soldiers when it was evident that they wanted to launch an attack.
The two suicide missions were carried out at a heavily guarded checkpoint in Molai, the last village that leads to Maiduguri along the Damboa-Biu road.
The checkpoint is situated near an NNPC Mega Filling Station where dozens of vehicles had queued up to buy fuel.
Witnesses said a bigger tragedy was averted because the remaining two bomb-laden cars were meant to ram into the waiting vehicles at the filling station in order to cause maximum destruction.
It was gathered that the first suicide bomber hit a patrol vehicle parked by the checkpoint, which caused a loud bang as the vehicles burst into flames.
“There was panic at the checkpoint because of the thunderous sound of the first explosion, many commuters who were waiting to be cleared left their vehicles and fled,” Momodu Bunu, a driver who fled the scene said.
In the ensuing confusion, the second suicide bomber hit another moving patrol vehicle also at the checkpoint.
It is not clear how many people were killed at the scene.
A journalist who lives close to the location said he heard loud explosions. “The place has been cordoned and some corpses have been taken away,” he said.
Many people waiting to buy fuel at the filling station abandoned their vehicles and fled.
In its account of the incident, the Defence Headquarters, through Major-General Olukolade, said, “Four terrorists believed to be suicide bombers, apparently heading for an NNPC facility along Maiduguri-Damboa road have died in their IED laden vehicles.
“The explosions took place at Mule (Molai) in the outskirt of Maiduguri. Three of the four explosive laden vehicles were demobilised by shots fired at them by soldiers at the check point shortly before the explosions that rocked the area.
“Five soldiers were wounded while the civilian casualties are yet to be determined.”
Yesterday’s suicide attacks came just over a week after two suspected Boko Haram members rammed a car-bomb into a police patrol vehicle along Maiduguri-Bama road, killing five policemen and three civilians.
A security source in Maiduguri said Boko Haram insurgents are trying to destabilise the Borno State capital after they were dislodged from their camps and enclaves in far-flung areas.
Following the blasts yesterday, security forces have intensified checks in Maiduguri. Motorists are being directed to use a single lane in places close to security checkpoints along Baga road, Post Office and Bama road.