From Umar Dankano, in Yola and Ahmed Kaigama, Bauchi with agency report
As soldiers, vigilante retake Chibok from B/Haram
Barely two weeks after a suicide bomber attacked Azare, headquarters of Katagum local government area of Bauchi state, another suicide bomb attack has hit the ancient city, with scores of people feared killed.
The incident occurred about 5:45pm yesterday, at the popular GSM market called Kasuwar Waya, in Azare.
It was gathered that a man and woman who pretended to be GSM operators at the market, were behind the blast. The bomb was said to have been strapped on the body of the female, who successfully detonated her bomb, causing many injuries and possible deaths, while the male counterpart was not successful in detonating his. However, he was said to have been roasted alive by an angry mob.
Those injured or killed were said to have been taken to the Federal Medical Center, Azare, which is located about 500meters away from the attacked market.
The Bauchi state Command’s Police Public Relation Officer, DSP. Haruna Mohammed confirmed the incident, saying details will be made available later.
A source close to scene of the explosion said the death toll is expected to be high.
Meanwhile, it could be recalled that the Boko Haram had on Saturday seized Hong, which is the administrative headquarters of Hong local government area of Adamawa state. This followed closely on the heels of the recent routing of the insurgents in Mubi by the combined efforts of local hunters and the Civilian Joint Task Force (JTF), which resulted in killing several insurgents and chasing them out of Mubi and Mahia.
Earlier reports had hinted at the possibility of a reprisal attack on the community by the insurgents.
But there are indications that the Nigerian military have already mobilised additional forces to flush out the insurgents from the territories under their control.
According to a security source, the latest development had seen the mobilisation of additional troops and Special Forces from Jaji, near Kaduna, as well as the creation, mobilisation and dispatch of two new Battalions for the all-important operation.
“We have mobilised over 3000 additional troops, with special forces arriving from Jaji to the 7 Division. The two new battalions from Giwa Barrack have also been dispatched,” the source said.
In a related development, the Nigerian Army said yesterday, it had recaptured and “secured” the northeastern town of Chibok, where the militants abducted more than 200 schoolgirls in April this year.
“The army recaptured the town Saturday evening from Boko Haram militants”, spokesman General Olajide Olaleye told AFP, in a text message. “Mopping up ops on-going. (The) town is now secured,” he said.
Leading elder Pogu Bitrus told AFP the town was re-taken in a joint operation with the civilian JTF, who back-up the military in several parts of the North-East where the Boko Haram is active.
He said the vigilantes fought inside the town while soldiers “stayed outside the town to mop-up the insurgents trying to escape.”
Boko Haram had captured the town on Thursday, after a battle lasting several hours.
Several inhabitants reportedly said the army had fled the assault, leaving the vigilantes to fight on their own.
Control of Chibok is crucial to the reputation of the army and the government, which have come under harsh criticism for their failure to rescue the schoolgirls.
The insurgents stormed the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok on the evening of April 14 and forced 276 students onto trucks in a mass abduction that caused global outrage. Fifty-seven managed to escape.
The insurrection by Boko Haram, which wants to create an Islamic state in northern Nigeria, has claimed more than 10,000 lives in the past five years.
They have seized several towns and villages in the northeast in recent months.
Meanwhile, tension has gripped Adamawa residents following the positive results by the joint operation of the military and local hunters in fight against Boko Haram insurgents.
Reports has shown that since last week, when Mubi and Maiha local government areas were recaptured by joint operations, the remaining confused terrorists took to their heels in all available directions.
It was in the process of escaping that the insurgents that took Hong-Gombi road, enroute Garkida-Biu road, attacked some properties including a Police station in Hong LGA and scores in Gombi, before moving away. A situation, our correspondent in Yola reports, that has thrown residents into serious panic, for fear of the unknown, as it was speculated that the insurgents are targeting the state capital.
Reacting to the development, Director Public Affairs, Mr. Phineas Elisha debunked the speculation, saying the security operatives are handling the situation with all seriousness it deserved.