SEVENTEEN days after 234 students of the Government Girls Secondary School Chibok, Borno State, were abducted by Boko Haram terrorists and the public outcry that have continued to greet the alleged uncoordinated approach of the security agents to rescue them, a major military operation is set to commence as four different battalions, a little more than a Brigade of the Nigerian Army, have been mobilised.
Meanwhile, Borno State Police Command and the Department of State Service, DSS, office in the state, yesterday, released new figures of the missing schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram insurgents, saying 276 students, not 234 were initially taken away.
This has contradicted the earlier claims by parents of the affected girls, who said 234 of their daughters were kidnapped when the insurgents attacked the school.
The state Police Commissioner, Lawal Tanko and the Director of DSS, Ahmed Abdullahi disclosed this at a joint press briefing held in Maiduguri last night.
Tanko said that the new figure was still not authentic as the actual numbers of the missing girls could only be verified when more parents, who were yet to know the whereabouts of the daughters, lodge a complaint.
The CP added that 530 students from Chibok and other neighbouring towns sat for the final examinations, and that 276 were abducted, while 53 others escaped.
This is just as former British Prime Minister, Mr. Gordon Brown, has called for international military assistance, such as air support, to be offered to the Nigerian government in the hunt for the abducted girls.
Nationwide protests against the abduction also gathered momentum yesterday as concerned women and activists embarked on protests in Borno and Kaduna states.
It was gathered that the battalions that will storm Sambisa forest are taking positions around all the access routes into the notorious forest.
The battalions comprised all formations of the Army, including those from Signals Corps, Armoured Corps, Ordinance Corps, Intelligence Corps, Infantry Corps, Artillery Corps, Military Police Corps and the Medical Corps.
Also, fighter jets of the Nigerian Air Force and Police surveillance helicopters have been mobilised and are waiting for the command to begin the joint security operations for rescue efforts of the girls.
The battalions are said to have been positioned in the North, South, East and West of the Sambisa forest so that when the troops move in from all the angles, there will be no escape route for the terrorists.
Owing to the possibily of encountering bobby traps, land mines, ambush and other unknown traps, it was gathered that Air Force fighter aircraft, helicopter gunships and Police surveillance helicopters would carry out round-the-clock missions.
Aircraft and land equipment including air ambulances, vehicles with mobile medical facilities and a considerable number of medical personnel, are said to have been deployed for the operation to ensure that casualties, if any, are quickly attended to when necessary.
It was gathered that since the forest shares borders with towns in Adamawa, Yobe, Borno and Cameroon, the different battalions would each launch their offensive from these locations.