The Nigerian Army has confirmed that some soldiers including an officer were ambushed with some killed by the Boko Haram in a recent incident.
PREMIUM TIMES exclusively reported how four soldiers were killed in the ambush on the military convoy.
The soldiers were part of the troops escorting the convoy of a military commander who was heading to Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, from his operational base.
The army’s response follows a PREMIUM TIMES enquiry into the October 18 incident in Borno State.
Military sources had told this newspaper that the convoy of the Commanding Officer of 81 Battalion was ambushed by the Boko Haram along Damboa – Maiduguri road at about 12 noon on October 18.
The commanding officer was on his way to Maiduguri from his base in Bulabulin.
Four soldiers were killed and five others injured during the attack, sources told PREMIUM TIMES.
Three of the slain soldiers were corporals while one was a warrant officer. Their names are withheld until we are sure their families have been contacted.
“The military lost weapons, equipment and a hilux vehicle including a ground to air communication radio in that attack,” one military source said.
When contacted for comments on this previously unreported incident, the spokesperson of the Operation Lafiya Dole counterinsurgency force in Maiduguri, Onyema Nwachukwu, confirmed that the incident took place but said three soldiers and not four were killed.
He said the attack involved the explosion of a landmine under a military vehicle which was later followed by a shootout between the soldiers and the Boko Haram.
“Yes, I can confirm that an ambush was sprung against a convoy of one of our Commanding Officers when the leading vehicle stepped on an improvised Explosive Device (IED) buried along the road at Teteri village while enroute Maiduguri,” said Nwachukwu, a colonel of the Nigeria Army.
“The escort troops fought bravely through the ambush successfully defending the Commanding Officer and other civilians who were caught in the ambush.
“Unfortunately though, three of the escorts paid the supreme price with their lives and two vehicles were taken.”
The army spokesperson said the Nigerian troops were promptly reinforced.
“Our Mobile Strike Team immediately mobilised to reinforce the troops and trailed the insurgents, recovering a gun truck, a Hilux and two motorcycles. Two AK 47 rifles abandoned as the insurgents fled in disarray were also recovered by troops”.
Mr. Nwachukwu, a deputy director of army public relations added that the army has since intensified its operations which led to destruction of ten Boko Haram vehicles and killing of several Boko Haram fighters who suffered a deadly air bombardment.
“May I also inform you that just recently troops conducting the Operation Deep Punch 2, in an artillery bombardment destroyed 10 Boko Haram vehicles concealed under thick foliage near Garin Manoma,” he said.
“Several insurgents were equally killed in that bombardment. Recall also that 15 insurgents were killed by our troops when the insurgents attempted an assault at Yamteke, near Gwoza.
“An armoured fighting vehicle, one Gun truck and two cars laden with improvised explosive device were recovered in that encounter. Be assured that our troops are relentless and not resting on their oars despite these successes.”
The colonel explained that the nature of the insurgency made it a difficult one to prosecute, but that the military would emerge victorious.
“You must however also bear in mind that we are fighting terrorism and insurgency founded on perverted ideological indoctrination hence the remnants of the terrorists group strive to remain undaunted by carrying out isolated opportunistic rampages as they flee.
“This is apparently a far cry from those dark days. Our troops remain resolute and undeterred in ensuring that Boko Haram is finally brought to its knees,” he said.
The Boko Haram insurgency has caused about 100,000 deaths since 2009 with millions of others displaced, mainly in Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa states.