In continuation with a series of air strikes aimed at fracturing the will of remnants of terrorists to fight as well as denying them their freedom of movement, the Air Component of Operation Hadin Kai has conducted air interdiction missions at Belowa, near Lake Chad, killing top insurgents kingpins.
Belowa is reportedly among the few remaining ISWAP/Boko Haram enclaves in the Tumbuns, Lake Chad Region in Abadam Local Government.
It was learnt that the air strikes became necessary after intelligence revealed the convergence of some ISWAP leaders and fighters from surrounding areas for a meeting with the motive of planning attacks.
Accordingly, a source said Nigerian Air Force (NAF) aircraft were dispatched to the location of the meeting at Belowa, which was confirmed to be active.
The location was subsequently engaged with rockets and bombs in multiple passes. An hour after the strikes, two vehicles conveying about 13 injured surviving terrorists to another hideout were struck through precision strikes by an airforce war jet.
Military intelligence sources revealed that after the strikes, ISWAP kingpin, Mallam Ali Kwaya who is a key member of the ISWAP Shura Council and Mallam Bukar Mainoka were among those neutralized in the strikes.
Similar strikes were also conducted on November 4, 2022, at Ngwuri Gana in Bama LGA, a location East of Maiduguri.
The strikes became an expedient sequel to intelligence that a group of ISWAP insurgents in 15 trucks were spotted converging at the location.
The insurgents, who were said to be armed with assorted weapons, were believed to have arrived from Mina, Abuja Kote and Tanga Lan Nga Villages all in Bama LGA. Usually, such regrouping means that an attack on troops’ locations in Bama LGA was in the offing.
“The need to strike the location was thus authorized. Feedback revealed the strike was on point as several terrorists were neutralized and all their structures and vehicles were engulfed in fire.
“Recent behaviours of remnants of terrorists and insurgents’ elements particularly in the Northeast is an indication of a state of desperation, confusion, apprehension and anxiety.
“On one hand, their ability to loiter freely and attack vulnerable villages and troops’ location at will has drastically reduced just as their sources of weapon supplies have been blocked.
“The infighting among the terrorist groups is also viewed as a clear sign of an end in sight of these groups acting and working together to attack troop’s location.” The source said.
When contacted, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, NAF Spokesperson, confirmed the strikes but refused to be drawn into the names of those killed.
He however said, “Our path to victory in the Northeast and northwest remains on course and we won’t relent until all locations are free of terrorists and insurgents. Let’s also not forget that the resilience of our pilots and technicians is in line with the directive of the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Amao that terrorists and insurgents must be denied their hiding places.”