Abuja — Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) deployed by the Islamic State for West African Province (ISWAP), a terror group, led to the killing of soldiers and travellers in the North-east, THISDAY has learnt.
Consequently, the movement of troops battling insurgency in the North-east in recent times was also hampered by IEDs.
Although troops succeeded in defusing the locally manufactured explosives planted by the insurgents during military operations, many travellers were already killed.
Flashpoints, where terrorists plant IEDs include Maiduguri, Damboa, Biu, Bama, Banki, Gwoza, Buni Yadi, Malam Fatori and Kukawa, among others.
Speaking in Borno, the Theatre Commander of Operation Hadin Kai, Maj Gen Christopher Musa, identified the detection and defusing of IEDs as a major challenge in the fight against insurgency in the region.
“Troops must scan areas where it is conducting patrols before going for any operation and scan again while returning,” he lamented.
Military sources said it takes an extended period of time for troops to defuse landmines with sweepers.
“Military movements that should take minutes, for instance, takes several hours and sometimes days in scanning and rescanning the environment for IEDs so as to ensure the safety of troops,” the source said.
The use of IEDs by terrorists against troops, had been an issue of concern to military authorities for some time.
Former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai (rtd), had, during his tenure, decried the performance of IED detectors procured from Slovak Republic.
He said some anti-mine equipment procured from that country and deployed to the North-east were not meeting targets of tactical operations.
Speaking at a meeting with Ambassador of Slovak Republic to Nigeria, Mr Peter Kolasec, at his office then, Buratai, who was represented by the former Chief of Army Policy and Plans, Lt General Lamidi Adeosun (rtd), said the military procured five consignments of arms and ammunition including 127 mm KVA machine guns, prosena anti-mine equipment and other weapons, which were deployed to the North-east.
He said the anti-mine equipment did not meet the expectations of army’s battle plans.
“The prosena anti-mine equipment is only good for removing mines where war has taken place. We are using it the best way we can but it is not working the way we want it to work. If it can’t detect mine from 50 meters, then we need new equipment.
“The way it is, it is not good for tactical operations so that we don’t waste resources,” he said, noting that insurgents deployed IEDs, which were poorly put together while maintaining that what was required was equipment that would detect and neutralise them.