The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai has disclosed that 23 soldiers died during the Boko Haram attack on the Metele, Borno State camp of the 157 Taskforce Battalion on November 18.
He also made a chilling revelation that the insurgents now use drones and mercenaries to attack troops’ formations in the northeast.
He said a total of 39 soldiers were killed and 43 others wounded in multiple attacks coordinated by Boko Haram insurgents on various military locations in the past few weeks.
The Army Chief disclosed these while giving an account of military losses in recent weeks to Boko Haram terrorists.
He disclosed that insurgents attacked Kukawa, Ngoshe, Kareto, Gajiram and Metele military locations between November 2 and 18, adding that they were successfully repelled by the gallant troops and several insurgents killed.
A statement signed by Brig. Gen. Sani Kukasheka, on behalf of Buratai and issued yesterday said the latest trend in nature of the insurgents’ attacks poses threats which require review of military operations against them.
The statement reads: “Since 2015; the Nigerian Army in conjunction with sister services and other security agencies have systematically degraded the capabilities and capacity of Boko Haram terrorists and many successes were achieved.
“However, in the last two to three months, we have noticed daring moves by the terrorists, increased use of drones against our defensive positions and infusion of foreign fighters in their ranks. These potent threats require us to continually review our operations”.
“In recent weeks, Nigerian troops deployed in the North East of Nigeria under Operation LAFIYA DOLE have come under series of attacks by large numbers of Boko Haram Terrorists.
“Specifically; the Nigerian Army troops deployed at Kukawa, Ngoshe, Kareto and Gajiram came under attack at different times within a two-week period between November 2 and 17, 2018. Each of these incidents was successfully repelled and several members of the terrorists killed.
“However, a total of 16 personnel were killed in the course of these attacks while 12 soldiers wounded in action and are receiving treatment at our military medical facilities.
“As you are all aware, Nigeria is contributing troops to the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) which has its headquarters in N’djamena, Chad. One of the Nigerian battalions; 157 Task Force Battalion, deployed under the auspices of the MNJTF was attacked at their base on the outskirts of a town called METELE on November 18, 2018.
“During the attack, the troops were forced to withdraw and several casualties were recorded. As at date 23 personnel were killed in action and 31 personnel wounded and have been evacuated to several medical hospitals within Borno State,” Buratai said.
Buratai sympathised with the MNJTF, adding that necessary support would be rendered to the MNJTF to reverse the resurgence of the Boko Haram terrorists.
Buratai also sympathised with the families of the gallant officers and soldiers that paid the supreme price in the course of defending the nation, stressing that the sacrifice fallen heroes will not be in vain.
Buratai gave an assurance that the army will support the bereaved families and continue to care for the wounded soldiers, who he wished speedy recovery.
According to him, the ongoing Chief of Army Staff Annual Conference earlier scheduled to hold in Benin City, Edo State, was moved to Maiduguri, to enable its leadership get closer to the troops on the ground, appraise its activities, assess performances and identify shortcomings.
Buratai reiterated the commitments of the Nigerian Army to ensure peaceful conduct of 2019 elections as well as collaborate with other security agencies to provide a secure environment for peace and unity in the country.
He commended President Muhammadu Buhari over his support and visit to the troops in the northeast.
The army chief also commended Gov. Kashim Shettima, Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali and Nigerians for their goodwill and support to the military at this trying moment.
”We wish to reassure all Nigerians of the commitment of the Nigerian Army to defend our country at all costs. We shall also continue to remain apolitical, professional and responsive in the discharge of our constitutional roles”.