The concerted efforts of the Nigerian security forces and their Nigerien counterparts yielded results on Tuesday with the discovery of a Boko Haram training camp in Niger Republic.
A security source said that the discovery was made by the Nigerien security forces, who had been collaborating with the Nigerian security agents in the fight against terrorism.
The source stated that the discovery of the camp of the insurgents was conveyed to Nigeria in a security report on Tuesday.
The Nigeriens, who were believed to have interrogated some of the insurgents, said Boko Haram devoted the camp to a specialised training for the use of long range anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons.
Investigations revealed that the insurgents were focusing on the use of a dangerous weapon they had acquired, the AA 12, which is one of the world deadliest shotguns.
One of its versions could also be used to shoot down fighter aircraft.
The source said that while the insurgents had acquired the lethal weapon, they had not got the expertise to fully utilise it.
The insurgents were said to be using the weapon “on eject role alone,” which meant shooting somebody directly with it, without maneuvering it for other more lethal uses.
Efforts made by our correspondent to get the details of the discovery from the Director of Defence Information, Maj.-Gen. Chris Olukolade, were not successful as the repeated calls to his mobile telephone line were not successful.
The discovery of the training camp followed the arrest of 20 insurgents in Diffa, Niger Republic by the country’s security forces on Monday.
An international news agency, Reuters, reported that the Boko Haram members were arrested while they were planning to attack markets and other thickly populated areas in retaliation against Niger’s support for Nigerian’s battle against terrorism.
Niger’s Army Chief, Gen. Seyni Garba, was quoted in the Monday’s edition of Le Sahel, a state-owned newspaper as having said, “The bloodbath planned by the terrorist organisation to punish our country has fortunately been avoided.”
There had been anxiety in high security circles over the use of ransom by the Boko Haram to acquire cheap, but deadly weapons in circulation from the Libyan crisis.
A source said that security personnel were of the opinion that the recurrent attacks against Nigerian villages were being perpetrated with new arms acquired with ransom money.
The source said that there was anxiety over an alleged payment of ransom as the preferred option to secure the release of abducted French nationals in Cameroun by the French Government.
A highly placed security source said that the French Government paid a huge amount of money to secure the release of a French Missionary Fr. Georges Vandenbeusch, abducted by the Boko Haram near the nation’s border with Cameroun on November 13, 2013.
When contacted, the spokesperson of the French embassy in Nigeria, Mr. Georges Vanin, said his country would not comment on the report that France had been paying ransom to secure the release of its citizens.
“We don’t comment on hostage cases. Anything relating to hostages, we never commented in the embassies,” he said.