Situation Friendly Forces:
- Patrolling troops have intercepted insurgents about allegedly about to attack BAMA and NGURO-SOYE in BORNO State reportedly killing 18, securing 16 AK47s and destroying 5 pick ups. 7 Volkswagens and 1 Hilux pick up.
- The Nigeria Police Force (NPF) has deployed 4 Mobile Police (Mopol) unit to BENUE State to tackle the crisis there. The force consists of 600 personnel commanded by the Deputy Inspector General of Police (Operations) and Commissioner of Police (Mobile Force).
- Mobile phone services were restored in MAIDUGURI, BORNO State around 12.30pm.
- The Anti Bomb Squad of the NPF defused an IED contained in a polythene bag in the SULTAN Area by SIR KASHIM Road, KADUNA NORTH LGA, that was dropped off by a motorcyclist.
- The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) stated 3m people had been displaced since January 2014 in the North East.
26 March: Nigerian forces have killed 7 insurgents in operations in the vicinity of GUMTI, ABAMAWA State and captured a Burkinabe with Chadian citizenship in arms as well as 70 motorcycles, IEDs and automatic weapons. 4 other insurgents were killed in the vicinity of GOMBI attempting to escape into CAMEROUN
29 March: troops from 103 Battalion, 82 Division attacked enemy positions in SAMBISA Forest supported by Alphajets. One company lost communications and was cut off during the withdrawal, with up to 20 soldiers reported missing in action. Enemy casualties are unknown
Situation Enemy Forces:
- Suspected nomadic gunmen attacked GBAJIMBA Town, GUMA LGA, BENUE State killing 36 people, burning schools, churches, government buildings and businesses.
- Over 100 unknown gunmen attacked a church in RANTYA LOW COST Area, NYANGO GYEL District, JOS SOUTH LGA, PLATEAU State around 10.00am. the attackers were repelled by the STF, apparently with no loss of life on either side.
- Boko Haram has released a video through AFP claiming responsibility for the attack on GIWA Barracks. A person stating he was Abubaker SHEKAU as usual made threats, glorified in slaughter and reiterated his threat to attack southern oil fields. An extended sequence showed the actual attack on GIWA Barracks.
24 March: insurgents attacked ZARAGAJIRI, MAFA, BORNO State around midnight killing 5 people and burning approximately 75 houses.
- A VBIED detonated in the GOVERNMENT FARM AREA, 20km from MAIDUGURI around 7.50am killing 3 civilians and the driver. The car was mobile at the time and it is presumed this was a premature detonation. Approximately 10 minutes later a VBIED contained in a VW Golf was driven at a police van in DALORI District of MAIDUGURI and detonated killing 5 police officers as well as the driver and 2 innocent civilians.
- Several hundred suspected nomadic gunmen attacked MBATSADA and TSE AGENA, GWER EAST LGA, BENUE State around 6.00am killing 60 civilians in an attack lasting several hours. 3 civilians were killed in ADEKA Market, AGATU LGA
- Several hundred unknown gunmen attacked GIZA Town, GIZA LGA, NASARAWA State killing 19 civilians and a policeman, destroying buildings and other property
- A communal clash between the Ngas and Pai peoples of SHIWER Community, PANKSHIN LGA and the Dokpai of KANKE LGA has left 2 people dead and an unspecified number wounded. Troops from the Special Task Force (STF) have restored order to the affected villages of PIRI, TIGIYA and IRNET
26 March: suspected nomadic gunmen murdered attacked ENJILA and OGBAGAJI Villages in AGATU LGA, BENUE State
29 March: 32 people were found dead in a makeshift IDP Camp in the NORTH BANK Area, MAKURDI, BENUE State. They had fled earlier attacks by nomadic gunmen.
Situation External Forces:
27 March: Elements of CAMEROUN’s BIR and Camerounian police captured 3 suspected arms dealers to Boko Haram men in GOULFEY, Northern CAMEROUN recovering rifles and RPGS which had allegedly come from CHAD. The detained men and captured equipment was taken to MAROUA.
Table 1 Casualties
Table 4 Insurgent incidents
|Insurgent Incidents||IED||Vehicle IED||Suicide IED||Small Arms||Small arms+IED||Other wpns||Theft||Kidnapping|
The Camera Never Lies?: another week another Boko Haram propaganda video. Like others it is well presented, on message and timely. In terms of the PR battle Boko Haram is much more on the ball than the security forces.
The video consists of around 23 minutes of action footage from the actual attack on Giwa Barracks then about 37 minutes of the standard haranguing by somebody who bears a resemblance to and claims to be Shekau but with voice, mannerisms and general demeanour that do not appear consistent with the Shekaus of previous. This video brings up several interesting lines.
Shekau: what is the significance of the non kosher Shekau? Does it mean Shekau is dead or injured? Or on the run and out of contact with his networks. Away on business (arms dealing, alliance building, fund raising?), has there been a disagreement and he is being kept out of the limelight. It leads back to the question of how important Shekau genuinely is in the organisation, is he the leader? Or just a figurehead. More questions than answers but one must look at the last time we had a Shekau substitute and what came next.
Enemy Forces: the video shows the attack on the barracks, with enemy fighters moving up, the actual break in and assault on the base. It gives us a good insight into the enemy and a useful mechanism to examine a Boko Haram attack using the following headings:
- Strength: There appeared to be up to 50+ fighters, during this phase supported by over 5 technicals. Nobody seemed to be specifically giving orders except for a few occasions where people gesticulated forward and no communication equipment was visible. There was no discernible grouping or unit structure although riflemen seemed to stick or move together whilst machine gunners and RPG men seemed to be apart. This could mean they are kept as distinct fire support or else just move slower
- Weapons: the enemy was mainly armed with AK variant assault rifles and a few G3’s, GPMGs and RPG’s.
- Dress and Equipment: the enemy was mainly dressed in civilian trousers and T shirts, some had head dress in the form of keffiyeh but most were bareheaded. Most fighters had chest webbing, while some had backpacks. The vehicle of choice appeared to be the 4 door Toyota Hilux with 12.7mm machine gun mounted on the back. These vehicles were camouflaged mud brown, with at least one gunner at the back; some vehicles had a second person who appeared to be assisting.
- Morale: enemy morale appeared high, fighters appeared calm and relaxed, showing no sign of panic or indiscipline and pressed home their attack until they secured their objective.
- Tactics: the enemy displayed reasonable basic field craft, using cover to advance, suppressing targets by fire and only moving under the cover of fire. Their method of attack appeared to be have the dismounts probe forward until they met resistance and then the technicals came forward to suppress it. When the enemy broke into the barracks itself assaulting fighters bunched up in cover behind buildings while machine gunners and RPGs were used to suppress friendly troops. An assault can be heard going in behind the buildings, one presumes this is the break in to the detention facility itself. The distinctive crescendo of fire as the assault goes in is heard, and then enemy fighters sheltering behind the building rush forward. Again no form of communications are seen so one assumes hand signals are used. As the civilians run past the enemy begins their withdrawal and an aircraft can be heard, the cameraman eventually pans round and catches the airplane in his viewfinder. Interestingly there are no crys of alarm or panic amongst the enemy.
Friendly Forces: from the video one can deduce that the enemy appeared to have achieved surprise and local numerical and fire superiority however there is constant friendly return fire which can be seen landing around enemy troops and bullets heard flying overhead, however it was extremely light. However the defence of such an important base housing such an important facility was poor.
It is perplexing that the perimeter did not have sangars or bunkers with interlocking arcs of fire or a mortar position set up. A few mortar bombs would have wreaked havoc where BH was massing for the break in and either stoppedthe attack or significantly slowed it down. The ZSU which allegedly misfired came into view, with a small fire burning in it. If it was part of the defence it was poorly sited and not necessarily the best weapon system to use. It did not look serviceable and was possibly just a dummy position.
Boko Haram have capable, disciplined fighters, the attack was well planned, well led and well executed. They did well getting to the Barracks, breaking in to it and actually getting to the detention centre. Their use of technical’s and dismounts is quite competent and fluid as were their basic skills and field craft.
They are a credible fighting force.
The Nigerian Army obviously fought back and pushed them out but basic things are lacking, the ordinary soldier did his duty bravely as the constant resistance despite being outgunned and outnumbered showed. Much has been made of Bok Haram walking about but this was only when they were out of range or line of fire, every other time they were behind buildings or flat on the floor. I would hope those soldiers who fought (hopefully not to the death) are recognised in some way.
This video was excellent enemy propaganda and unfortunately has achieved its objective of shaping the narrative of ‘..Boko Haram fighters walking around freely shooting their weapons..’ this is very effective propaganda but interesting in the opportunity it presents to view the enemy at work.
The Nigerian soldier did his duty, one would hope commanders will begin to implement the basic security and force protection measures necessary to prevent a reoccurrence and also to understand that the media terrain is a battlefield that can be shaped and used to support the main effort.
It’s not as hard as it seems, one simply starts where the Boko Haram video ends, as the Alphajet descends to destroy them.