The fighting between Nigerian troops and suspected members of Boko Haram in Mubi, Adamawa State, entered the second day with the Nigerian Air Force launching a ferocious aerial bombardment against the terrorists who attacked the town and its environs on Wednesday, according to intelligence sources.
However, the fighting in the northern part of Adamawa took a turn for the worse yesterday following reports that the hometown of the Chief of Defence Staff Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh had been overrun by suspected members of the sect.
A trapped resident, who identified himself as Dauda Longman, said the sound of gunshots and explosions prevented them from sleeping throughout last night.
“We could not sleep, there were explosions and gunshots as helicopter gunships continued to bombard the town,” he said.
He disclosed that the Mubi market was burnt down and many vehicles were also set ablaze by the insurgents who went about destroying houses and killing innocent people.
Longman said thick black smoke had covered the sky of the ancient city, adding that he made an effort to escape through difficult terrain because that was the only route out of Mubi, as the insurgents had blocked the major roads in and out of the town.
“This morning there was still fighting going on in Vimtim, the home town of the Chief of Defence Staff and there was heavy exchange of fire and explosions there.
“We are in state of despair and agony over the spate of killings by the rampaging Boko Haram sect. Right now, corpses are littering the streets of Mubi especially around the police station; there are dead bodies of slain policemen and soldiers at the ‘Welcome to Mubi’ entrance gate,” he said.
Madam Mary also narrated her experience, saying Mubi was now in disarray. “We are hiding in our homes and other places. They (Boko Haram members) burnt down many places including the market and motorcycles. They have since hoisted their flag at the emir’s palace.
“They are in control of police stations, military barracks and institutions of higher learning. The soldiers ran away, several people have been killed including civilians. They also attacked and killed those they believe are informants or infidels,” she said
Also, residents of Vintim village, the hometown of the CDS, confirmed that the village, a suburb of Mubi, finally fell to the insurgents, adding that the rampaging terrorists had sacked the military and locals of the village,
A source, who confirmed the incident, said following the capture of Vimtim yesterday, the insurgents had a field day looting and burning properties in the village.
In response to the raging battle in Mubi, the Adamawa State Government yesterday dispatched over a hundred buses to comb the town and its environs for people trapped and stranded in the area for onward movement to the internally displaced persons camps in Yola, the state capital.
Governor Bala James Ngillari of Adamawa State gave the order when concerned citizens of Mubi visited him to brief him on the current developments in the area.
However, the military elected to keep mum over the setback it had suffered and reported casualties of soldiers, policemen and residents who had lost their lives in the two-day battle.
Suspected terrorists, in a surprise attack on Wednesday afternoon were reported to have taken some of sections of the town including the 234 Battalion Army headquarters, until they were repelled by hurried reinforcement by the armed forces.
According to some security sources, the military guarding the barracks fled the scene when more militants arrived in the area with heavy firepower.
Nonetheless, there was no official confirmation from the military on the situation in Mubi for the second day running, as efforts to speak to the Director of Defence Information (DDI), Major-General Chris Olukolade and Director of Army Public Relations (DAPR) Brigadier-General Olajide Laleye proved abortive.
In the same vein, the Minister of Defence, Lt-Gen. Aliyu Gusau (rtd), Badeh and Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Usman Jibrin, all shied away from the subject when they attended a function yesterday in Abuja.
Gusau and the service chiefs, who were at the commissioning of the naval headquarters new office extension, avoided the journalists who were at the event.
The CDS, whose hometown is close to Mubi and was reportedly taken over by the sect yesterday, immediately scampered away when journalists confronted him.
Speaking on the office extension, Jibrin said the edifice was capable of accommodating two branch chiefs and eight other offices for directors and staff officers.
“This also has a restaurant, VIP waiting room and a conference room equipped with state-of-the-art multimedia facilities. The building was constructed through direct labour but a number of the contractors were engaged to carry out works such as cladding, supply of furniture and fittings, installation of air conditioners and multimedia facilities in the conference room amongst others,” he said.
However, it was learnt that the Nigerian Air Force launched a ferocious aerial bombardment against the insurgents who had taken over Mubi.
According to an intelligence source, the air raid had been ongoing for the past 24 hours, even at the risk of losing air force personnel.
“Air raids killed some of them yesterday (Wednesday) and today (Thursday). The situation is still dicey. It seems the air force guys are provoked and doing the necessary pounding even in the face of risk,” the source said.
The source revealed that the military authorities, who were still in shock over the lapses that enabled the terrorists to launch the horrendous attack on Mubi, had set up a board of inquiry.
“Investigations into the surprise attack on troops’ positions is ongoing”, the source stated.
He added that if it is established that the attack was carried out by Boko Haram terrorist it could jeopardise the ongoing negotiations for the cessation of hostilities between the group and federal government.
As at press time, no group had claimed responsibility while the federal government insisted on going on with the negotiations currently being mediated by the Chadian President Idriss Deby.