Angry Soldiers Refute Claims Of Only Injury, Insist They Lost Men
2 Officers, 22 Others Wounded, As Troops Retreat, Retake Kareto– Army
The Nigerian Military may still taking stock of the actual casualty figure following last week’s attack by Boko Haram insurgents on a Military formation in Kareto, in Mobar Local Government Area of Borno state, even as reports indicate that it has deployed aerial offensives to disperse the insurgents who seem to be giving their last fight.
nationalTRAIL gathered that at the time the General Officer Commanding the 7th Division of the Nigerian Army, Brigadier Victor Ezugwu was battling with another set of insurgents on the Maiduguri-Bama axis, Nigerian troops camped in Kareto, in preparation for advancement on Boko Haram locations were also running for their lives following a dawn ambush by yet another set of Boko Haram insurgents.
Reports indicate that the GOC lost one soldier in the encounter along the Maiduguri –Bama road, while the exact casualty figure in the incident in kareto could not be ascertained as some of the soldiers who dispersed in different directions following the ambush are still finding their ways back to their bases in Gubio in trickles, as at time of filling this report.
Nigerian Army on Monday last week said, 2 officers and 22 Soldiers were wounded in action after Boko Haram attacked military formation in Kareto, Damasak local government area of Borno State, but soldiers returning from the battle field said, the military had lost men in the battle which lasted hours before reinforcement came.
According to them, two suicide bombers approached the military camp earlier, and were gunned down when suddenly there was rapid fire by the Boko Haram who are using RGPs and Rocket Propel Grenade to attack the military formation.
“We took position and tried to fire back but we do not have the weapons to repel as aspects, and we all retreated when the battle was fierce to allow fighter jet to come in. The most annoying or rather sad thing is that, reinforcement did not come in time and we lost many men.” A soldier told newsmen in Maiduguri.”.
According to them, fighting Boko Haram is far from being over until politics ceases to play out and government becomes serious about fighting the insurgents.
“We are at the war front but it was not our voices that is heard about the ongoing war in the northeast. Those who are feeding the world with information are not at the battle front. The truth is that, war is ongoing in the northeast and the earlier they stop playing politics with the issues the better for Nigeria,” another Soldier said.
It could be recalled that, last year the President has said, that the Boko Haram insurgents have been weakened, but the Kareto experience observers say is an indication that government needs to wake up to its responsibility to ensure total clearance of the terrorists group.
Several attempts to get the Acting Director Army Public Relations, Col. Sani Usman Kukasheka to speak on the number of casualty failed as he could not reply many call trying to have him react to what the soldiers told newsmen about the incident last week.
Military authorities were not forthcoming on the actual figure of casualties, but our correspondent reports, hospital sources confirmed that corpses which he suspects were that of soldiers were being deposited in the State Specialist Hospital Maiduguri and the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital.
Defence spokesman, Brigadier General Rabe Abubakar could not also confirm the casualty figure on enquiry as he did not reply sms sent to his phone by the editor of the paper, nor respond to calls put through to him, but sources confirmed that an investigation has been ordered into the incident, as part of the stock taking.
Although there is no official confirmation of the casualty figure, our correspondent learnt that more than 100 insurgents may have been killed in the counter offensive by fighter jets, and many soldiers could not be accounted for, as they were yet to report back to base as at the time of filing this report.
According to one of the soldiers who was amongst those ambushed, the insurgents may have received information of the planned offensive by the troops, and decided to cause panic in the troops’ camps by firing untargeted gunshots at the camps, and at the same time trying to scoop food items from panic stricken residents.
Our correspondent further reports, at the time the Military is reported to be recording successes in the fight against terror, rag tag Boko Haram insurgents, who are believed to be starving have in apparent desperation re-launched attacks in some areas in Borno State.
In the last one week, the Military has reported the repelling of several attempts by Boko Haram to coordinate attacks in several locations in Borno State, even as reports indicate that life is gradually returning to normal in most areas hitherto sacked by Boko Haram.
By Yahaya WAKILI, Maiduguri