The troops deployed to flush out Boko Haram insurgents from Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states, yesterday, encountered intense resistance from sect members who were armed with sophisticated weapons from Libya.
This came as the National Assembly, yesterday, endorsed the proclamation of a state of emergency in the three states by President Goodluck Jonathan.
A senior military official told The Guardian of London that “they (Islamist militants) have been putting up fierce resistance and they are very, very well-armed with weapons from Libya.” He said most of the militants who have waged a bloody four-year battle to create an Islamist state had scattered across the semi-desert borders.
A renewed military campaign, including aerial bombardments of Boko Haram training camps in the three states declared under emergency rule this month, has led to the capture of almost 200 militants and the death of dozens in a week, according to the military. In one raid, a helicopter gunship was hit by anti-aircraft and anti-tank fire, a military source said.
However, a resident of the besieged states said:“It’s only by the goodwill of soldiers and by virtue of my position that I was able to leave the city. All the entry points to and from Maiduguri are blocked by the military but they let me through.”
Outside the city walls, he said, trucks carrying food and market produce were lined up awaiting entrance.
“We have been used to seeing soldiers and checkpoints for the past two years in Maiduguri, but it is having a real impact on the economic activity,” he added.
In Maiduguri, where militants are deeply enmeshed in the population, soldiers carrying out house-to-house searches after placing a 24-hour curfew in some neighbourhoods discovered stockpiles of weapons including rocket-propelled grenades, a defence spokesperson said.