Nigerian Defense Headquarters Orders Fleeing Soldiers To Retake Mubi From Boko Haram
Some 24 hours after Nigerian soldiers from the 234 battalion fled Mubi, Adamawa State as Islamist fighters advanced, the Defense Headquarters in Abuja has ordered the troops to return and retake the town from the militants. SaharaReporters was first to report yesterday that Islamist terrorists fighting under the banner of Boko Haram had captured the strategically important town of Mubi from Nigerian troops who were so overwhelmed by the insurgents’ firepower that they abandoned their barracks and weaponry as they fled.
A military source in Abuja told SaharaReporters this morning that the embarrassing retreat had infuriated the Chief of Defense Staff, Alex Badeh, whose hometown, Vimtim, is now less than 15 miles from the location of the insurgents.
Yesterday’s daring attack by the Boko Haram militants marked the first time in more than two months that the insurgents were able to send Nigerian soldiers fleeing. Before yesterday’s attack, Nigerian troops had scored a series of decisive triumphs over the insurgents, killing hundreds of them, capturing their weaponry and vehicles, and repelling their attempts to grab more territory in Adamawa or Borno States.
But military sources confirmed to us yesterday that Boko Haram militants were able to sweep into Mubi yesterday with little or no resistance from Nigerian troops based in the town. Newspaper accounts disclose that the militants have since bombed a prison yard and a major police facility in the town.
Our military sources said the insurgents had taken over the headquarters of the former Special Operations Battalion (SOB) now known as the 234 Battalion. One source said military authorities in Abuja were particularly nervous about the insurgents’ capture of the barracks because the retreating soldiers left behind a huge cache of sophisticated weapons kept at the armory in Mubi. “With the weapons in their possession, these militants can pose a serious threat to many other parts of the state and beyond,” a military officer told SaharaReporters.
One of our sources at Defense headquarters disclosed that some 300 soldiers who fled yesterday have now been ordered to converge at Song, a small township directly commanded by Brigadier Agbarefe, the Brigade Commander from the 213 Brigade in Yola. The troops are backed by two armored tanks and a few anti-personnel carriers (APCs) as they await final orders to march on Mubi to confront the insurgents and try to dislodge them.
Our source added that there was no aerial cover planned for the moment, but that the troops would proceed regardless.
The troops will be without their commanders, Lieutenant Colonel A. Agu and a platoon commander, who were both injured yesterday when the pick up van they were fleeing in somersaulted several times.
Several soldiers in the battalion said morale was low, adding that their equipment were hardly adequate for the assignment to flush out the insurgents from Mubi.
However, a military source in Abuja denied the depiction of troop morale and equipment, insisting that the soldiers were well prepared and adequately armed to carry out the order to recapture Mubi. He said an additional brigade had been mobilized to provide additional firepower.