The Nigerian military sources have described the fierce battle between Boko Haram terrorists and troops of 113 Battalion in Kareto, northern part of Borno, as a clear case of intelligence failure.
Boko Haram terrorists had launched a surprise attack on the 113 Battalion last week before the deadly attack was repelled following reinforcement from other military formations.
Military sources however said that despite the “minor set back”, the troops had resolved to complete the clearance operations against the terrorists from every inch of the Nigerian territory.
THISDAY reliably gathered that the battle, which lasted more than eight hours, came as a shock to military authorities both at the tactical, operational and strategic levels.
“It was a clear case of intelligence failure and some lapses on the part of the Command but it will soon be corrected’” an officer said.
The surprise attack, which the military said left over 24 officials and soldiers wounded, has called to question the effectiveness of military intelligence.
The Director of Army Public Relations (DAPR), Col. Sani Usman, had said in a statement that two officers and 22 soldiers were wounded in the battle with Boko Haram terrorists in Kareto, Borno State last Monday.
Usman said the wounded were already being treated at the Military Hospital in Maiduguri.
“Please recall that Boko Haram terrorists attacked our troops location at Kareto, northern Borno State this morning. (last Monday) The troops successfully repelled the attack and killed quite a number of the terrorists.
“The situation has since been brought under control and reinforcement sent. So far our troops had two officers and 22 soldiers wounded in action. All of them have been evacuated to Military Hospital Maiduguri where they are receiving treatment,” the statement read.
The Army Spokesman said the attacks were repelled, due to the timely response of the troops including air cover as more reinforcement was deployed. Usman also said the reinforcement sent to support the battalion helped to ensure that normalcy was restored.
However, inside sources revealed that the scope of the attack, coordination and weaponry used by the terrorists took the military by surprise.
Military sources claimed that the sudden attack was devastating and that if not for the arrival of reinforcement from the 157 Battalion, the casualty figures would have been worse.
One of the soldiers close to the theatre of operation said that there were many of his colleagues still missing in action with casualty figure higher than what was reported.
“The terrorists were suspected to have passed through Damboa Road and were armed with AA and grenades. It was devastating. For most part here, the terrain is dangerous even though the terrorists have lost territories. They now resort to hide, hit and run. The land is so large and most settlement have been deserted to the extent that we are left alone without much informants, coupled with the facts that these Boko boys know the terrain more than us.
“So for us here, just believe in yourself, pray to God and don’t put mind on any intelligence. But we thank God that the 157 Battalion under 29 Task Force Brigade came for reinforcement that saved our colleagues,” the soldier said.
It was also reported that the residents of the area who were said to have escaped to Maiduguri, claimed that the terrorists arrived some of the villages in the night prior to the attack and urged villagers to flee.
According to them, the terrorists came disguised in military fatigue with many villagers thinking that they were soldiers who came around for normal military operations in the ongoing clearance of Boko Haram.
Also speaking, an intelligence source said it was Boko Haram that broke the news of the attack, adding that many soldiers lost their lives because the distance and expansive nature of the territory made it impossible for reinforcement to arrive on time.
The source further noted that despite the fact that most terrorists have been defeated and driven out from major parts of the state, they still pose serious threat in most of the northern towns bordering Niger and Chad Republic.
The source noted that all these areas fall under the newest 8 Division, which has the difficult task of clearing the terrorist remnants increasingly finding safe haven across Chad, and Niger, while exploring their local knowledge of the vast terrain.
“To be frank , the Kareto attack was announced earlier by Boko Haram. They killed many soldiers, and it took hours before the reinforcement. So as we speak now, many were missing in action.
“You know that there are still remnants of Boko Haram in Mobbar, Abadam and Guzamala. These areas falls under the responsibility of 8 Task Force Division, which took off since early this year. They have leadership structure on ground and covers Gubio, Monguno, Nganzai, Mobbar and I think Guzamala and Abadam,” the source added.
However, the military, which has been recording various success stories against the remnants of the Boko Haram terrorists in parts of Borno State, has vowed to finish up their operation to reclaim all territories.
“What some members of the public should understand is that this is terrorism, an asymmetric warfare that is different from the past conventional ways wars were being fought. However, we are not making excuses because we are on course and when the war ends, those doubting us will finally believe.
“Really, what we had in Kareto was a minor set-back that would be corrected. We are not deterred as efforts are being made in all fronts to ensure we get the job done,” a senior officer assured.
He also noted that the three states of the North East of Yobe, Adamawa and particularly, Borno State, has been liberated from the Boko Haram terrorists, who at the peak of the crisis controlled 22 of the 27 Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the state.