Boko Haram jihadists overran a military base in northeast Nigeria after a ferocious firefight, military and vigilante sources said Sunday, the second assault on the country’s forces in two days.
The militants on Saturday evening invaded a base holding hundreds of soldiers in Yobe state — where they abducted over 100 girls from a school earlier this year — in an attack that lasted for hours, a military source told AFP on condition of anonymity.
“Boko Haram terrorists attacked troops of the 81 Division Forward Brigade at Jilli village in Geidam district. The terrorists came in huge numbers around 7:30 pm (1830 GMT) and overran the base after a fierce battle that lasted till 9:10 pm,” said the military source.
“The base had 734 troops. Currently the commander of the base and 63 soldiers have made it to Geidam (60 kilometres away) while the remaining 670 are being expected,” he said.
“We don’t know if there were any casualties among the troops. That will be known later,” he said, adding that the base was new and the troops had recently arrived from Lagos, the commercial capital.
A leader of a local anti-jihadist militia said that the soldiers sustained casualties, but was unable to give a toll, attributing the attack to the Abu-Mus’ab Al-Barnawi faction of Boko Haram, which is known for targeting Nigerian forces.
“We learned that they drove from Lake Chad through Gubio (in nearby Borno state) and attacked the base,” he said.
Geidam resident Fannami Gana said that Boko Haram jihadists “overwhelmed” the troops.
“We don’t know the details of what happened but we learnt they were overwhelmed by hundreds of Boko Haram gunmen,” said Gana.
The attack on the base took place just days after Boko Haram fighters ambushed a military convoy in neighbouring Borno state on Friday.
23 soldiers are missing after the ambush, in which the Nigerian military also lost several vehicles.
The two attacks highlight the tenuous hold Nigerian forces have on the remote northeast region and the persistent threat of Boko Haram, despite claims from Muhammadu Buhari’s government the country is in a “post-conflict stabilisation phase.”
The former military ruler came to power three years ago on a promise to defeat Boko Haram, which is aligned to the Islamic State group and threatens security in the Lake Chad region.
But while there have been clear military gains since a counter-insurgency was launched in 2015, suicide bombings and raids remain a constant threat, particularly to civilians.
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