The Nigerian military has retaken full control of Gombi, Pelia and Hong, three key communities in the north-eastern state of Adamawa earlier seized by the extremist group, Boko Haram, the defence headquarters said Wednesday.
“Troops are in full control of Gombi, Pelia & Hong as operations to clear all areas infested by terrorists continue. Many of them are being captured as some also die,” the defence headquarters said on its website. “Weapons and equipment are also being recovered. Mopping up operation is currently ongoing in the general area.”
The communities fell under the control of Boko Haram insurgents last week, resulting in the displacement of hundreds of people.
The News Agency of Nigeria also quoted the military as saying that “The Nigerian troops in their daring exploit have taken full control of more communities in Adamawa State, including Gombi, Pelia and Hong.
“The ongoing military operations in the North-Eastern Nigeria is to clear all areas infested by terrorists.’’
Residents of the respective communities and security sources confirmed the report. They said the troops were backed by local hunters and other volunteers of the civilian JTF.
The sources said normalcy had returned to the areas and that at least 10 soldiers and scores of Boko Haram militants died in the fighting.
Gombi town, seen as an entry point to Yola, the state capital, was stormed by the Boko Haram sect last Thursday, with residents trapped.
Military authorities had earlier deployed helicopter gunships and a large number of troops at Gombi to contain a surprise turn-out of large number of insurgents in the area after Mubi, Adamawa State’s second largest town, was retaken from them.
Residents of Gombi said the insurgents engaged the troops, who wanted to reclaim the town in a shootout, but were flushed out after a fierce gun battle.
“I can’t say the number of casualties during the fight but the sect members left the place,” a resident, Garba Abubakar, said.
Mr. Abubakar said that the military also used air strikes to clear the insurgents.
Also corroborating the residents, a trapped resident of Hong, Patience David, said “the terrorists who attacked our town have been effectively flushed out”.
In a meantime, dozens of hunters and other volunteers are travelling to the northern parts of the state to join the battle against Boko Haram and assist in retaking all territories captured by Boko Haram.
“The volunteers have so far scored great and unprecedented victories against the terrorists, sending them fleeing from liberated towns,” Philip James, secretary of the local hunters association in Adamawa, said.
“You know after they were pursued, Boko Haram terrorists fled Maiha and Mubi last Thursday south to Gombi and Hong from where they planned to advance to Yola.
“Some of the terrorists also fled Adamawa north through Chibok and holed up in a school in Manjakwa, Hawul local government that’s why we are now mobilizing across the north east to all join hands with hunters and civilian JTF from other states and assist in fighting the insurgents.”