April 2015- Entry into Sambisa and Enemy counterattacks
April was characterised by Nigerian forces consolidating their gains around Gwoza, to the south of Maiduguri and operation to clear Sambisa and Alagarno Forest. The enemy recovered from their losses to launch aggressive attacks across the AO, pushing friendly and allied forces onto the defensive in some areas. Whilst friendly forces sought to Clear, Consolidate and Hold, the enemy attempted to Isolate, Neutralise and Attack
Nigerian ground and air forces captured Alagarno, Yajiwa and other villages and cleared enemy camps in Alagarno Forest in Kaga and Damboa LGA south west of Maiduguri capturing armoured vehicles, computers, generators, IEDs, arms and ammunition, commencing clearance operations in the Sambisa Forest occupying an area to the south of Maiduguri, with Bama and Gwoza to the east and Damboa to the west.
2 weeks later the enemy counterattacked friendly positions in Alagarno Forest with small arms and AAA mounted vehicles but were repelled with heavy enemy casualties.
Nigerian forces captured Yamteke and Uba, Askira Uba LGA south of Madagali and Izge and Bita to the west of Gwoza. The next morning around 2.00am Enemy forces attacked Dile south of Izge and Bita killing 20 civilians. Less than 2 weeks later enemy fighters reportedly began concentrating around Yamteke, Tabe and Jangoro, threatening these gains
With Chadian forces occupying blocking positions in Mora, Cameroun to the east of the Mandara Mountains, the NAF conducted air interdiction patrols around the Mountains attacking enemy vehicles and positions.
Around the 3rd of April gunmen began raiding border villages in Mayo Sava Department, Cameroun to the east of Gwoza, abducting people and stealing food stuff. Gunmen attacked Bia 1 and 2 burning the village and Amchide on motorcycles stealing livestock to take back to Nigeria, enemy fighters also infiltrated the Gwoza Hills in Nigeria murdering 12 people awaiting evacuation.
Operations to clear the Sambisa Forest were reported around the 22nd with over 12 camps claimed cleared and up to 500 hostages liberated. IEDs caused significant delays and casualties.
HOLD: an IED detonated in a motor park in Gombe City as fighting continued in Gombe and Bauchi State. Boko Haram fighters retreating from Bauchi and Alkaleri LGAs, Bauchi State through Akko LGA, Gombe State attacked villages there and ambushed troops in Pindiga, however by the first week fighting had died down and surviving enemy moved retreated to Borno/ Yobe States.
To the southeast of Maiduguri, enemy forces began probing towards the city from the south east, murdering 4 fishermen on Alau Lake and abducting 5 others, and then attacking Kayamla Village to the west of Alau Dam stealing food and livestock.
To the southwest of Maiduguri around Biu, the enemy pushed back against friendly forces gains along the Damaturu-Biu Road, with 2 PBIEDs unsuccessfully attacking Biu on 5th April, resulting in 1 killed and 1 captured. That same evening, a vehicle and motorcycle mounted attack on Kwajafa, Hawul LGA, south of Biu with small arms and IEDs killed 24 civilians. 6 days later Boko Haram attacked Buratai (north of Biu and south of Buni Yadi and a PBIED unsuccessfully attacked a Shia Mosque in Potiskum wounding 8 people outside when he prematurely detonated.
The enemy continued harassing civilians, murdering 21 returnees in Bultaram, Gujba LGA and then attacking Marguba, south of Benisheikh killing 21 people and stealing food and livestock
To the northeast of Maiduguri Boko Haram launched a major mounted attack on New Marte on 6th April with a VBIED, IEDs and small arms but were repelled. 17 days later an estimated 2,000 fighters with small arms, IEDs attacked Marte and Kirenowa, friendly forces reportedly ran out of ammunition and withdrew. Enemy forces then attacked Mafa unsuccessfully on the evening of the 25th retreating after killing 4 vigilantes and 2 soldiers
Around Gamboru Ngala, locals reported seeing a convoy of armed pick ups around Sigal, Kale Balge LGA, shortly after there were enemy raids against Dabanga, Logone et Chari Department, south of Gamboru Ngala on the Camerounian border with Kale Balge LGA costing 3 lives. Chadian troops reoccupied Gamboru Ngala in the middle of the month, whilst Mada to the north east of Fotokol near Lake Chad was attacked at the end of the month.
Further north by Lake Chad, an IED on the road to Baga in the vicinity of Cross Kukuwa wounded 6 soldiers and a vigilante. 2 days later the enemy launched an aggressive attack with small arms and RPGs on a patrol around Baga as it attempted to retrieve a stranded vehicle, killing 2 and wounding 6 soldiers and 3 vigilantes, which was defeated with 22 enemy casualties.
Even further north by the Nigeria/ Niger border, enemy forces counter attacked in the vicinity of Malam Fatori the day after Chadian and Nigerien forces occupied the town inflicting 10 dead and 16 wounded, with the Chadians claiming to have killed ‘hundreds’.
Enemy forces in canoes attacked Maidogo Village on Lake Chad from Malam Fatori, travellers to Tchoukou Telia near Baga Sola were ambushed and 7 murdered and IEDs laid on the road between Tchoukou Telia and Ngouboua.
3 weeks later a major raid with motorised canoes on Karamga Island, Niger inflicted heavy casualties on the garrison and civilian population, the island was recaptured the next day with Chadian air support, prompting the Diffa Region Governor to order the evacuation of all Lake Chad islands
Nigerian forces were focused on three areas each at different stages of the Clear-Hold-Consolidate process; the Damaturu – Biu axis, Gwoza and the Sambisa- Alagarno Forest areas.
Having lost the Damaturu-Biu Road, the enemy attacked into Bauchi/ Gombe, when this didn’t work, resorted to raids to the north and south of Biu, targeting civilians. Raids around Konduga were highlighted the threat to Maiduguri with but with the capture of the Gujba IED making facilities, strategic attacks against built up areas in Maiduguri lessened, with the only strategic IED attacks taking place west of the Damaturu-Biu axis.
With the loss of Gwoza most enemy appear to have retreated to the Sambisa and Alagarno Forests or into Cameroun, where the enemy showed a keen interest in contesting the eastern approaches to the Mandara Mountains, gathering food and livestock for sustainment.
The vicious IED and small arms attacks from Karamga through Malam Fatori, Marte, Kirenowa, Sigal, Hile Halifa and Mada formed a rough semi circle in and around Lake Chad. Taken together with the attacks in Mayo Sava Department on the eastern approaches to the Mandara Mountains, it seems to show that holding onto these border areas were currently higher priorities for Boko Haram, than retaking their ‘caliphates’ capital or advancing on Maiduguri.