At least seven newly recruited Nigerian soldiers were killed in battle Thursday night after troops of the Nigerian Army and Boko Haram terrorists engaged in a prolonged exchange of gunfire in northern Borno State.
No fewer than 20 others were injured in the gun battle which occurred along the Maiduguri-Dikwa road in the North-Eastern State, military insiders told PREMIUM TIMES. Dikwa is 70 kilometres east of Maiduguri.
Three other soldiers, including a female, were declared missing after the incident, our sources said.
Witnesses said the battle began at about 7:30 p.m. on Thursday after a detachment of troops, put at about 250 soldiers and one officer, ran into a Boko Haram ambush as they travelled through the area in army trucks and buses owned by the Borno State Government.
Our sources said the terrorists suddenly emerged in huge numbers from surrounding bushes and opened fire on the travelling troops, most of whom are said to be young soldiers fresh from training. The soldiers are said to be members of the 76 Regular Recruit Intake of Depot Nigerian Army, Zaria.
The terrorists were said to be in a “surprisingly large number and armed with sophisticated weapons” and did a lot of damage before the soldiers could alight from their buses to fight back.
After the soldiers emerged from their vehicles, a prolonged fire-fight ensued, with seven of them falling in battle, and 20 others suffering varying degrees of injuries.
The army then sent reinforcement to the scene, but by the time those soldiers arrived, the Boko terrorists had fled into surrounding bushes and villages, making away with a gun truck, a mine detector, some AK 47 rifles, explosives and other weapons.
When contacted on the incident on Friday, Army Spokesperson, Sani Usman, said he was yet to be briefed on the matter.
Mr. Usman, a brigadier general, directed further enquiries at the Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, Lucky Irabor.
Mr. Irabor, a major general, did not answer or return calls as at 5:49 p.m Nigerian time when this report was published.
The latest incident happened two weeks after another batch of terrorists attacked a military base in Kamuya, Yobe State.
Military insiders said three soldiers were killed as the terrorists stormed the military base from three different directions on January 25, shooting non-stop for over 30 minutes.
The firing was so intense that the troops initially withdrew from their location, our sources said.
However, a reinforcement was quickly sent from Buni Yadi to join the troops on ground.
After hours of intense fighting, the troops were able to retake the camps, with the terrorists fleeing.
They however made away with several high calibre weapons and sophisticated communication equipment, including mortals, mine detectors, Rocket Propelled Grenade and bombs.
A large number of Boko Haram terrorists were said to have been killed in battle with some fleeing the scene with gunshot wounds.
Twenty-three soldiers were declared missing after that battle.
Insiders told PREMIUM TIMES Friday the soldiers were yet to be seen.