- Troops successfully repelled terrorists, says army
Senator Iroegbu in Abuja with agency report
Boko Haram fighters monday attacked Nigerian soldiers near the border with Niger in the Jihadists’ North-east heartlands, the army has said.
The militants struck as the troops were on their way to the border town of Damasak, a military source said.
According to Reuters, the army took the area back from Boko Haram last year but has struggled to hold it.
The group allied to Islamic State (is) had been fighting to carve out an Islamist caliphate in the region for at least seven years in a conflict which has displaced more than two million people and killed thousands.
“Boko Haram terrorists attack troops of 113 Battalion,” army spokesman, Colonel Sani Usman, said in a statement.
He added that: “The troops have been battling the insurgents since (the) early hours of today (yesterday).”
The troops had been trying to establish a permanent base in Damasak as Boko Haram remains active in its hinterland, the source said.
No further information was immediately made available from the remote area which is largely disconnected from mobile phone networks.
Boko Haram controlled a swathe of land in North-east Nigeria around the size of Belgium at the start of last year but was pushed out by Nigerian troops, aided by soldiers from neighboring countries.
The group has since stepped up cross-border attacks and suicide bombings against markets, bus stations and places of worship.
Meanwhile, a statement by Usman said the troops successfully repelled an attack by the terrorists.
He noted that the timely response of the troops involved air cover as more reinforcement was deployed
Usman also said reinforcement was sent to support the battalion, adding that normalcy had been restored.
“The attack has been repelled. Reinforcement sent. Everywhere is cool and calm,” he added.
Usman, who was earlier silent on the number of casualties either on the part of the military or Boko Haram, later confirmed that the troops did not suffer any loss during the fierce battle.
However, military insiders disclosed that the terrorists took them by surprise with sophisticated weapons beyond their firepower.
According to some sources who spoke to THISDAY, there were likely heavy casualties on both side, despite the fact that the military were able to quickly reinforce and take control of the situation.
“The men came with some kind of new weapons we have never seen before and there were likely casualties but we cannot confirm for now,” a source said.