UPDATE on Military Operation in Sambisa
A text of Press Briefing by Director Defence Information, Major General Chris Olukolade at Defence Headquarters, Abuja on April 30, 2015
Gentlemen of the press,
As you already know, troops have commenced operations deep into the Sambisa forest after sustained aerial bombardments by the Nigerian Air Force. The main objective as you know is to decimate and clear the terrorists from the forest which is their last bastion.
The well coordinated operation is already yielding results as troops in the last few days rescued 200 girls and 93, women and an additional number of hostages. Over 13 terrorists camps including the notorious Tokumbere camp in Sambisa forest have been captured. Other camps overran and destroyed by troops include, Wulari Bukar, Gangala, Anguwar Bakwai, Jigide, Kotorima, Lagura Bello, Lagina Fulani, among others.
Several field commanders and foot soldiers of the terrorist group have lost their lives, some armoured personnel carriers, Bufallo vehicles mounted with Anti-Aircraft guns, a truck and several Hilux vehicles were destroyed by troops. Also recovered from the fleeing terrorists are a number of Anti-Aircraft guns, General Purpose Machine Guns (GPMG), Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPG) and several AK 47 rifles. Unfortunately though, we lost one soldier in the course of the operation while 10 others have so far been wounded.
The true identity of some of the rescued women and girls are yet to be ascertained. At the moment, what is upper most and of priority is their movement to a conducive place where they are now undergoing thorough profiling to verify their true identity, where they come from, how they found themselves in the forest, etc. Additional number of persons are still being recovered from the forest. Until such comprehensive profiling is done, nobody can confirm whether they are among the Chibok girls or not.
Whoever they may be, the important thing is that Nigerians held captive under very severe and inhuman condition have been freed by our gallant troops. The joy and sense of hope being expressed by many Nigerians on hearing about the rescue operation is therefore understandable. We would like to reassure them that the momentum of this operation will be sustained until that sambisa forest is comprehensively cleaned out and all Nigerians held captive within the bowels of the forest are rescued. There is great hope for the recovery of more hostage of the terrorists.
Already, the dislodged and disorganized terrorists are in flight on different directions and running helter-skelter in the expansive forest. There is no longer any respite or sanctuary for them; they will be pursued and tracked down not minding the daunting challenges in the mission including hundreds of land mines and difficult terrain of the Sambisa forest.
It should be noted however that the essence of this operation is not to kill everybody in sight. We encourage any of the combatants who is desirous to surrender to come out, as the forest will no more be tenable as a haven for their activities. In the same vein, innocent civilians among those in flight are also encouraged to report themselves to the troops. We will continue to treat civilians in the most professional and humane way.
We thank all Nigerians for their continued prayers and support and assure them that Never Again shall forces of darkness reign supreme in our country.
Director Defence Information
April 30, 2015