The Friday evening attack by Boko Haram on soldiers at Gudumbali area of Borno State left many soldiers dead, military sources in the state have said.
The Nigerian Army, however, said only one soldier was killed in the attack. The army also said it successfully repelled the attack and killed many of the insurgents.
Gudumbali is the headquarters of Guzamala Local Government Area of Borno State, where Metele, another military base, was attacked that led to the death of many soldiers last month.
PREMIUM TIMES on Friday night broke the story about the fierce battle between soldiers and the Boko Haram insurgents.
According to a top military source who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES from Damasak, the troops were ambushed by a large number of Boko Haram fighters who crept upon the soldiers at the time they were about to be served their evening meals.
“The soldiers were caught off guard on that Friday evening when a container food truck that normally brings their meal arrived the base and soldiers filed out to receive their ration,” said a military source who asked not to be named because he is not allowed to speak to journalists.
“Most of them were not fully kitted, talk less of being armed at the time the Boko Haram terrorists suddenly opened fire on them from nearly all directions.
The source, who is in Damasak, a Nigeria/Niger Republic border town, 79km from Gudumbali, said the Gudumbali military base was “dislodged completely.”
“There were about 700 soldiers at the Gudumbali camp and many of them had to scamper for safety, while some who were badly hit by the ambush paid the supreme sacrifice.
He said an effort was made on Saturday to retrieve corpses of the slain soldiers.
“As I am talking to you, now we are in Damasak and we have about 30 corpses of our gallant colleagues while about 20 others soldiers who managed to escape the attack have made it to Damasak on foot. We are yet to account for the remaining soldiers as we are speaking now.”
The soldier who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES late Saturday night said they hope to receive more of their missing colleagues by (Sunday).
He expressed worry that the attacking insurgents may have made away with some of the weapons and vehicles left behind by the dislodged soldiers.
In its reaction on Sunday afternoon to the attack, the army, however, said only a soldier was lost in the battle.
The spokesman of the Operation Lafiya Dole in the North-east, Onyema Nwachukwu, a colonel of the Nigeria army, said the troops fought gallantly to repel the attack.
He said though the soldiers were attacked from two fronts, they were able to “outmaneuver the insurgents and inflicted serious casualty on them.”
“Troops of Operation LAFIYA DOLE located at Gudumbali in northern Borno State on Friday 15th December 2018 repelled an infiltration by suspected Boko Haram terrorists that came disguised as humanitarian assistance team.
“The terrorists took advantage of the ongoing distribution of relief materials at Gudumbali and opened fire on troops location which was followed by rapid fire from other terrorists in gun trucks along Gudumbali-Kukawa axis. The troops however fought gallantly and outmanoeuvred the attackers inflicting heavy casualties on them.
“Unfortunately, a soldier paid the supreme price during the encounter, while another was wounded in action. A Cobra Armoured Personnel Carrier and a truck belonging to the unit were damaged.
“The troops have recovered bodies of some of the neutralised terrorists, large quantity of ammunition and 8 Rocket Propelled Grenades Charges.
“The troops have since been reinforced and normalcy has been brought to the general area,” Mr Nwachukwu said.
The army, known for downplaying its casualties in the insurgency, has been at the forefront of the battle against the terrorists.
The insurgency has caused tens of thousands of deaths since 2009.