By Chimezie Godfrey
No fewer than 23 Boko Haram/ Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorists have been neutralized in recent encounters with troops of Operation Fire Ball in the North East region of the country.
The Acting Director, Defence Media Operations, Defence Headquarters Abuja, Brig. Gen. Benard Onyeuko disclosed this while briefing Defence correspondents on the activities of troops of Operation Fire Ball between 1 to 24 November, 2020.
Onyeuko noted that Operation Fire Ball, a subsidiary operation under Operation Lafia Dole is meant to clear the remnants of the Boko Haram/ Islamic State West Africa Province terrorists from their identified enclaves in the North East region.
He pointed out that Operation Fire Ball has steadily progressed and satisfactorily too with significant results within the short period from its inception.
According to him, the last 3 weeks of this month has proved to be a significant period against the criminals, adding that this is as a result of the more successful operations conducted within this period.
Onyeuko also noted that the gallant troops of Operation Fire Ball in the various Sectors of the Theatre have continued to dominate the general areas of operation and carry out their tasks relentlessly and professionally.
According to him, the successes so far achieved were made possible with the commitment and gallantry exhibited by the well motivated troops within the period under review.
He revealed that the troops have carried out aggressive clearance operations, ambushes, robust day and night patrols in order to finally decimate the remnants of the Boko Haram/ISWAP criminals.
He said,”Consequently, as a result of the aggressive offensive actions carried out by the troops, several terrorist elements have been neutralized and large number of their equipment were captured including large quantity of their logistics consignment was intercepted our gallant troops.
“Most importantly, a number of women and children hitherto held captive were rescued unhurt. In this regard, a total of 23 Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists were neutralized while one terrorists’ Improvised Explosive Device (IED) expert was captured alive during an encounter.
“Equally, the gallant troops courageously intercepted some Boko Haram criminals while attempting to collect ransom from relations of their abducted victims leading to the decimation of the criminals and successful rescue of 2 women and 3 children unhurt.
“In terms of the criminals equipment casualty, the following weapons were captured: 4 Gun Trucks, one Fabricated Vehicule Blinde Leger, 2 Anti Aircraft Guns, one General Purpose Machine Gun, 2 PKT Guns, 8 AK 47 Rifles, 2 AK 47 Rifle Magazines, one AK 47 Rifle Cover and one Dane Gun.
“Furthermore, large cache of ammunition were also captured.
“These include: 18 rounds of 7.62 x 51mm, 4 rounds of Brownie Machine Gun ammunition, one Rocket Propelled Grenade Tube, One 36 Hand Grenade, 23 belted rounds of 7.62 x 54, One QJC Extra Barrel, 311 rounds of 7.62mm NATO ammunition (Linked), 511 rounds of PKT ammunition, 8 rounds of Light Machine Gun ammunition, One Service Tools Box, One gas cylinder (for making IED), 8 bicycles, several bags of grains and assorted packets of drugs.
“Other assorted non lethal items were also captured from the criminals.
“Unfortunately, 6 gallant soldiers were wounded in action over the period.
“However, the wounded soldiers have since been evacuated to a military medical facility and are currently responding positively to treatment.”
Onyeuko commended the troops for their resilience, doggedness and professionalism exhibited since the beginning of the Operation.
He equally encouraged them not to relent but build on the successes recorded so far.
Onyeuko assured the entire populace of the North East region of the Nigerian military high command’s determination to finally rout the remnants of Boko Haram/Islamic State’s West Africa Province criminals from their enclaves in the zone.
He equally encouraged them to avail the troops with credible information that will help in the execution of the operation.
Onyeuko further thanked members of the Press for their cooperation and commitment in sensitizing the general public of these activities.
He also solicited for continuous cooperation of the press in information dissemination their future activities.