Cameroon seizes Nigeria-bound arms

Sui­cide bombers hit Army post in Borno

Daily Trust - - FRONT PAGE - From Hamza Idris, Maiduguri & Ron­ald Mu­tum, Abuja

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.

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