World Bulletin/News Desk
Nigeria said Friday that army troops had "cleared" at least three more northeastern towns in the restive Adamawa State of Boko Haram militants, while also recovering weapons from fleeing insurgents.
"Troops are currently conducting aggressive patrols in and around Garkida after clearing the town of terrorists yesterday," read a statement issued by Nigeria's defense headquarters.
"A well-coordinated air force campaign is supporting the troops' movement and operations in the mission area," it added.
According to the release, the army also flushed Boko Haram militants out of the Fachi and Duma localities and wiped out any trace of the group's gunmen in Gombi, Pella and Hong – three other towns that the army declared free of militants earlier this week.
"Similar air and land patrols, along with mop-up operations, are being conducted in places such as the Gombi, Pella, Hong, Fachi and Duma localities, where terrorists have been dislodged as troops continue to follow in pursuit," the release added.
The Friday statement also said heavy weapons had been recovered from militants, while two soldiers were killed and five injured in the encounter.
"More heavy weapons, such as anti-aircraft guns, general purpose machine guns, improvised explosive device materials, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, as well as rifles and items such as vehicles and motorcycles are being recovered from fleeing terrorists," the statement read.
"The content of other items – such as a projector, DVD players, laptop computers, mobile-phone handsets, memory cards and flash drives recovered from the terrorists – are now being analyzed for vital information," the army statement added.
It went on: "Troop morale is reportedly high as they continue the offensive. The bodies of two soldiers who died in one of the encounters have been recovered, while the five wounded – including a brigade commander – are presently receiving treatment."
The military, meanwhile, has warned citizens against relying on reports that vigilantes had dislodged the militants, insisting that such claims were part of a "mischievous campaign aimed at disparaging and depreciating" the army.
"While appreciating the effort of the hunters and citizens who have been supporting our troops in the onslaught, the military still remains in the vanguard of the mission to rid the nation of terrorists and their activities," according to another army statement issued Friday.
"We will remain focused and utilize only well-meaning support and advice in the ongoing campaign to wipe out terrorists," the release said.
"Much as we are aware of the politicians who are promoting the campaign for whatever reason, we will not be distracted by their antics," it added.
"The result of present efforts will soon manifest for the whole world to see and Nigerians and their military will not be diminished, as intended by those engaging in the campaign of calumny against the Nigerian military," it read.
The statement added: "We, however, caution Nigerians not to allow themselves to be hoodwinked into danger by false reports on the so-called 'liberation' of certain areas by 'hunters,' as we can only vouch for areas which the military has reported cleared of terrorists."
The army acknowledged last week that certain areas had fallen into the hands of Boko Haram, but pledged to recover all "territories lost" to the militant group.
The country has battled Boko Haram since 2009, with thousands killed and millions displaced across the region, where emergency rule had been imposed until only a few days ago.
A presidential request for parliament to extend the state of emergency for another six months appears stuck amid a political crisis prompted by the recent defection of the country's parliament speaker from the ruling party to the opposition.Last Mod: 21 Kasım 2014, 22:48