Nigeria will commence the withdrawal of some its troops from the Peace Support Operations in Mali, the Defence headquarters (DHQ) announced on Tuesday.
According to the Director of Defence Information (DDI), Brig. Gen. Chris Olukolade, the troops are mainly those not accommodated in the structures of the newly formed United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, (MINUSMA).
He said they are to join the ongoing internal security operations in the country. This followed the rehatting and takeover of the mission from African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA) by the UN. Some of the soldiers will be redeployed immediately.
DHQ however, restated Nigeria’s commitment and contribution to the Mali operations will be sustained in other forms. This will involve input of sizable men and materials to continue in the UN Mission.
Accordingly, Nigeria will be providing a full-fledged Level 2 Military Hospital with full staff compliment; a Signal Squadron as well as Staff Officers in the Force Headquarters. A troop of the Mobile Police Force is also remaining in the mission.
Meanwhile, following renewed attacks by the Islamist sect, Boko Haram in the northern part of the country, military authorities have authorized deployment of more troops to the frontline states where emergency rule is in place.
Olukolade said “more troops and equipment are being deployed into the operation to ensure better coverage and protection of communities in the operational area.
“A large scale shooting and murder by terrorists of over 22 and infliction of varying degree of injuries on over 18 members of Borno Youth Vigilance Group in Dawashi and Mainok in Borno State last Saturday has been reported.
“It is also believed that a number of other innocent civilians mostly women, children and elderly were killed in the unprovoked attack.
“The incidents which followed separate attacks on the group and the two communities are consistent with the new pattern of operations by the terrorists after the loss of their camps.
“This practice of laying ambush or attacking innocent civilians by terrorists lately is meant to intimidate Nigerians who have rejected the activities of terrorists in the communities.
“The Special Forces have been directed to ensure that the perpetrators of the recent incidents are tracked down and the manhunt for them is in progress accordingly”.
He therefore, urged citizens to “maintain high level of vigilance and continue to cooperate with security forces in the operation. Members of the vigilance group in particular are being counseled to endeavor to work only under the strict guidance and protection of the security forces on ground in their localities.
“The Defence Headquarters appreciates the determination of Nigerians particularly individuals and communities who have offered assistance and are working in support of the counter-terrorism operations in spite of the desperate activities of the few bands of marauding insurgents”.