Military Surrounds Camps Where Boko Haram Held Abducted Girls, Intensifies Negotiation

By 03:25 Tue, 29 Apr 2014 Comments



Nigeria’s military said it has tracked down and surrounded

the location, where over 200 schoolgirls who were abducted

two weeks ago from Government Secondary School,

Chibok, are reportedly being held captive by Islamist sect

Boko Haram.

The military is said to be applying caution in its approach

having identified the various camps where the girls are held,

to ensure their safety it explores several options, including

intense negotiations by locals and the Borno State

Government to secure their release.

“The operation is being strategically carried in a very covert

manner because the terrorists will not hesitate to use any of

the girls as human shields or even kill them in the event of

an attack.

“Another thing you must consider is that apart from being a

large expanse of land area, the Sambisa forest also has

many clusters of villages and settlements that can suffer

from the collateral damage, should an all-out bombardment

be carried out.

“Assuming the military attacks them and some of the girls

get killed in the process, can you imagine the outrage that

will come from the members of the public? So they

(military) are being careful.

“All this while, the military has known and has tracked the

locations where they are and has even concluded plans to

invade the place, but later shelved it to avoid collateral

damage,” a source told Thisday.

The military was said to have changed tactics, as it was

revealed that the instead of a full onslaught on the terror

hideouts, the troops are relying more on intelligence

gathering and negotiations by some local indigenes and the

state government with the terrorists to secure the release of

the girls.

It has also emerged that in the course of searching for the

girls, the military has arrested some of the arrowheads

behind their abduction and are currently undergoing

interrogation.

The source further explained that the security forces do not

want to get involved in negotiations since they consider the

kidnapping a “highly coordinated local issue” with the full

backing of the state government.

“The state government and the Commissioner (of Education)

are seriously negotiating (for the girls’ freedom) because

they know these boys. And what you see playing out is the

politics of the state of emergency,” he said.

Also, sources within defence circles further revealed that

after being embarrassed by the conflicting accounts on the

number of girls that were abducted or released, the military

is taking a more cautious approach in dealing with the

situation.

Most of the military top brass, the sources also revealed, are

still aggrieved with the way they were misled into giving a

false statement about the missing students, which forced the

Defence Headquarters (DHQ) in Abuja to retract its

statement.

One top security officer expressed doubts that 234

schoolgirls were kidnapped, stating that the number of the

abducted girls was grossly exaggerated and may not be

more than 70 in total.

According to him, since the total number of the students in

the school from junior to senior secondary level is about

1,200, this would explain the high number of parents

claiming that their children are missing.

“This is aside from the calculated effort aimed at getting

some kind of financial compensation from the state

government, which was alleged to have doled out the sum

of N1 million to each family of the missing girls.

“Now if you divide that figure by six, you would have a

maximum of 200 students in a class. And when you

consider the fact that the SS3 (Senior Secondary 3) students

are normally fewer in number than other classes, it stands

to reason that less than 200 schoolgirls were abducted,” the

source explained.

Expressing frustration with the entire incident, the security

official added: “Another thing you should note is that schools

were closed within this period and this is both a day and

boarding school, and not all the students were living in the

school.

“So who gave them the directive to come to school and

what were they doing in school at that time? Who are the

students that make up these figures, because most of them

were going to school from home since they are all

members of Chibok community.

“The fact is that the figure is less than 100, or even less than

70 from our estimates, which was admitted by the school

security men there and even the principal of the school

before she started changing figures and statement. Today,

she will say the figure is 129, then later she said 234 and

again changed the figure.”

He alleged that the whole situation playing out with the

abduction saga was beginning to appear like a hatchet job

meant to ridicule the military in order to gain the upper hand

in their quest to lift the state of emergency imposed on

Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States.

“Owing to what has happened, the military has decided to

operate in the background since our men cannot trust the

people (community members) who are also being

brainwashed to see us as enemies.

“The way this whole situation has played out has made the

military wary of those it is working with, that is, the locals

and their hunters, as you can see how the principal has been

made the star of this whole misfortune.

“She has been granting interviews to the media in a euphoric

manner, ridiculing the military and saying the hunters are

the ones doing the job,” the source added.


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