Sept. 18, 2013
Nine soldiers, still missing, Army says
Sixteen soldiers and 150 suspected insurgents have been killed during a military operation targeting a Boko Haram camp in Borno State, the Army headquarters said in Abuja yesterday.
Nine other soldiers are still missing following the clash at Kafiya Forest, Army spokesman Brigadier General Attahiru Ibrahim told Daily Trust.
The incident happened on Thursday, but authorities confirmed the casualty figures only yesterday following a story on the Internet that gave a much higher death toll.
An earlier announcement made by the 7 Division of the Nigerian Army on Saturday said “several” insurgents were killed but made no mention of military casualties in the incident.
Brig-Gen Ibrahim told Daily Trust yesterday that on September 12, troops from the Maiduguri-based 7 Division embarked on aggressive patrol around the forest and launched an assault on a Boko Haram camp.
“During the assault, we killed over 150 insurgents and we lost an officer and 15 soldiers, with about nine soldiers missing in action,” he said.
Ibrahim added that during the clash a Boko Haram commander named Abba Goroma, who had a N10 million bounty on his head, was killed. He said the camp was well-fortified with anti-tank weapons and anti-aircraft guns mounted on vehicles.
The Army spokesman denied a report on the Internet yesterday that said up to 40 soldiers were killed and 65 others missing after an ambush by insurgents.
But authorities have downplayed military casualties in the past.
In August, an ambush by Boko Haram fighters left at least 12 soldiers dead in Malam Fatori, Borno State. Initially the military said only two soldiers died, but their commander confirmed later that the army death toll was 12.
The military casualties in Thursday’s clash is the heaviest yet made public since a state of emergency was declared in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states in May.
On Saturday, the Army’s 7 Division had said troops had destroyed Boko Haram training camps and hideouts in Kafiya Forest, and killed “several” insurgents.
Spokesman Lt. Col Sagir Musa said the military had liberated three villages which were under the “grip and control” of insurgents for more than two years.
He said soldiers had been operating in Felo, Gwaoi and Malagara, in Gubio and Nganzai local government areas to fish out terrorists.
“The fact that the main camp located in the midst of the chunky Kafiya Forest has been identified makes the use of air strike indispensible in the ongoing operation,” he had said.
“Members of the public, particularly, the remaining dwellers of the villages and adjoining communities are requested not to panic as the operation is intended to liberate them from the crises and challenges of Boko Haram’s insurgency ravaging their societies.
“At the moment, the Kafiya Camp has been effectively destroyed. Several terrorists lost their lives during the encounter with troops and the three villages are now freed from the grip of the insurgents.
“The Brigade is tasked to periodically patrol the areas to ensure that terrorists are deterred from returning to the areas.”