Rampaging Boko Haram insurgents overran a Nigerian Army battalion in Borno State on Sunday, killing the unit’s commander and dozens of soldiers, military sources have told online newspaper, Premium Times.
A large cache of arms, ammunition and military equipment were carted away by the Boko Haram fighters during the attack on 157 Task Force Battalion in Metele, Abadam Local Government Area, at about 6:00 p.m., a setback for government forces trying to push terrorists further out of Nigeria’s northeastern flank.
There were fears for the fate of the troops from the base, which was raided only a month ago, as military sources said the Nigerian Army was making frantic efforts to contain the traumatic effect of the attack on the larger counterinsurgency operation.
Bodies of fallen troops were still being recovered and evacuated from the scene as of yesterday morning, according to Premium Times.
But dozens of soldiers from the battalion have already been confirmed killed, including their commander. Military sources were unable to tell the number of Boko Haram casualties.
Military sources said the fallen commander was a lieutenant colonel, who had overseen the unit for a long time.
He once allegedly refused to mobilise troops for an operation, citing unavailability of serviceable hardware, but faced threats of being court-martialed, according to sources.
It was not immediately clear how many soldiers were manning the base during the attack, which was linked to Islamic State in West Africa, ISWA.
The group has long targeted military bases, and has intensified its assaults in recent months on military formations across the volatile North East.
A day before, on November 17, Boko Haram terrorists attacked the base of Sector 2 troops in Mainok, Kaga Local Government Area, killing at least one soldier and leaving several others wounded.
Military sources believed the Shekau faction of the group was responsible for the attack, which saw insurgents cart away a large quantity of arms and ammunition.
According to the online publication, both the Nigerian Army and the Defence Headquarters did not return requests seeking comments on the attacks yesterday morning.
Spokesperson for the Nigerian Air Force also did not return messages seeking comments.