The Nigerian Defence Headquarters on Thursday confirmed that three soldiers lost their lives during a fierce shootout with members of the ISWAP in Kukawa town of Borno State on Tuesday.
The military also said “eight ISWAP members were shot dead while several others escaped with bullet injuries.”
The attack, which took place on Tuesday evening, had sent the few residents, who were returning to the community after years of displacement, fleeing again.
One of the civilian survivors, Ali Gonimi, told journalists upon his arrival in Maiduguri on Wednesday that the attackers were in full military kits.
“Initially, when we saw them coming from afar, we all thought they were soldiers of the Nigeria Army, until when they came right into the town,” he said.
“We were all scared upon seeing their black flags with a white Arabic inscription on it. They looked so much like soldiers because they were well dressed in camouflaged military uniforms. They told us not to panic that they were not out to harm us.
“But who would believe that kind of assurance? We all took to our heels as they commenced shooting with soldiers. Most of us fled towards Baga, where we got vehicles that brought us down to Maiduguri. Some people had to go on foot to Monguno.”
An official of the state government-owned vigilante and hunting group, Bunu Bukar, confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES in a phone interview that “more than five soldiers have died.”
“Our personnel who were lucky to escape the attack had given us a report that not less than five soldiers have been killed in Kukawa town. They also went away with seven vehicles they snatched from the soldiers.
“I don’t know if the soldiers had killed any of the Boko Haram or ISWAP fighters.”
Meanwhile, the Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, John Enenche, said in a statement on Thursday that the attack was an “attempt to scuttle the resettlement of the Kukawa community in Borno on Tuesday.”
He said, “three soldiers were killed in the attack while two others sustained various degrees of injuries.”
Mr Enenche said the wounded soldiers were currently receiving treatment at a military facility.
“The attack by the terrorists was, therefore, a deliberate attempt to reverse the milestone achievements recorded regarding IDPs in the areas of peacebuilding, reconstruction, rehabilitation and resettlement efforts by the government.
“The situation in Kukawa is now calm with troops in full control.“
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