As many as nine police instructors reported missing after scores of Islamic State West Africa Province fighters attacked the Police Mobile Force Training College, Limankara, Gwoza, Borno State, have returned to their camp.
A senior police officer confirmed to The PUNCH that the men, who were earlier believed to have been abducted by the insurgents, found their way to the camp on Saturday.
The insurgents had launched a ferocious attack on the police college on Thursday, with many Rocket-Propelled Guns for almost two hours before they overwhelmed the beleaguered policemen inside the school.
The Borno State Commissioner of Police, Mr Abdu Umar, had confirmed the attack to journalists in Maiduguri on Friday but denied the abduction of the police officers.
However, reliable police sources explained that nine out of the 21 instructors in the school were reported missing after the insurgents broke into the college when the policemen ran out of ammunition.
Our correspondent was informed that the military failed to send reinforcements despite the fact that an army checkpoint was located not far from the school.
Shedding light on the attack, a senior police officer said the attackers came from three angles, adding that they would not have overrun the school had there been reinforcement.
The source stated that the policemen ran out of ammunition and later resorted to smoke gas which prevented the terrorists from entering the college for some time.
He said, “From Gwoza town to Limankara is just 15km and there is an army formation there. The policemen said they called for reinforcement but there was no response. Nine instructors were kidnapped out of the 21 instructors in the camp.
“The place wasn’t fortified, the authorities only repaired the fence that was damaged by the terrorists during previous attacks. They were about restarting training there before this latest attack.”
Another source said the school was not properly fortified, noting that the policemen could have successfully repelled the attack if they had a functional armoured tank.
He also lamented the failure of the military to send reinforcement, noting that help could have come for the policemen within five minutes.
The officer added, “If there was coordination among the forces, reinforcements can get to the training school within five minutes because there is an army checkpoint around that place. You know it is between Madagali and Gwoza, that place is the border between Adamawa and Borno but it is under Borno. So, there is a checkpoint close to the place. If the school has a standard armoured tank, there is no way the insurgents can breach the camp.’’
The senior officer recalled the short time reinforcements took during a peacekeeping operation in Mali.
He noted, ‘’When we were in Mali on a peacekeeping operation, when we called for reinforcement whenever we were under attack; from Bamako to our location is one hour, 45 minutes but within a few minutes, the reinforcement will be there. But in Nigeria, it is the next morning reinforcement would come.
‘’The instructors ran out of ammo and the insurgents were using RPGs and the policemen did not have any RPG. It was the smoke gas that helped the instructors to resist the attacks for some time. Rivalry (between the security forces) is the issue. Nobody came to the rescue of the men from 8pm when the attack started till around 10pm.’’