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How insurgents take over cantonment, hoist own flag

Hundreds of suspected Boko Haram fighters launched the attack on the 202 Tank Battalion Barracks, located about 78 kilometres from Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.Military…

Hundreds of suspected Boko Haram fighters launched the attack on the 202 Tank Battalion Barracks, located about 78 kilometres from Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
Military authorities said the attack was carried out by “terrorists who came from cells located across Nigerian Border with Cameroun through Banki town.”
In a statement, Director Defence Information, Maj Gen Chris Olukolade, said: “High caliber weapons such as anti-aircraft and rocket propelled guns were freely used in the attack that lasted several hours.” “Ground troops backed by the Air Force have repelled the attack and are in pursuit of the insurgents,” he added.
He said details of casualty figure would be released after troops had concluded “cordon and search” of the area. President Goodluck Jonathan had also summoned an emergency meeting with the service chiefs over the barracks’ attack.
But top security sources told our correspondent yesterday that the attack could be described as “the worst so far and the biggest blow on the military establishment.”
Our correspondent learnt that the attackers, who were in their hundreds, drove in convoy of vehicles before encircling the barracks with heavy weapons. “The terrorists sacked the barracks and withdrew on their own around noon,” the source said.
He said though the arrival of a fighter jet from Yola gave cover for some trapped soldiers to escape, as the terrorists were relentless in the offensive.
A source also disclosed that the insurgents had slaughtered some of their victims, adding that one of them was a captain who was killed on the unit’s parade ground. He said many buildings were destroyed in the attack.
Another security source said troops on ground were helpless and disappointed, accusing Nigeria’s federal government of complicity.
“The painful part was that even when the military’s top-shots in Abuja were informed of the happenings in Bama, they were not bothered. Instead, they went ahead with decoration of promoted senior officers which was performed by Mr President at Command Mess in Abuja,” the source said.
“Some families of soldiers are still missing – probably taken by the Boko Haram and a lot of structures have been destroyed,” another source said.
It was gathered that the suspected Boko Haram fighters had fired rocket at a military helicopter conveying the commander of the 21 Brigade Armoured Brigade of the Nigerian Army, while on his way to Bama on Friday to inspect the attacked barracks.
“Sadly, the helicopter from Maiduguri on reinforcement carrying brigade commander was shot at and had to return. It caught fire on landing but the flame was quickly put out without any casualty,” the source added.
As at the time of filing this report, all roads leading to Bama were closed and sources said reinforcements had been dispatched from Abuja.
Friday’s attack on the cantonment came less than three weeks after similar coordinated on military barracks and air force base in Maiduguri, in which five military aircraft were destroyed.

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