Nigeria: Boko Haram fighters killed nine soldiers and wounded two others in northeast Nigeria, according to military sources. The incident comes just days after 43 civilians died in deadly suicide bombings.
Both attacks came as the government urges those displaced by the conflict to return to their homes across the war-torn region. The government claims that the jihadists are on the verge of defeat.
Troops from the 242 battalion Nigerian Army stationed at Gajiram came under attack on Monday afternoon. Gajiram is some 80 kilometres north of Maiduguri, the Borno state capital.
The Borno state police initially said its officers and soldiers had "engaged the terrorists and promptly repelled the attack". "There was no casualty on the side of the police," it added. But military communications said nine soldiers were classified as ‘KIA’ — killed in action, while two others were ‘WIA’ — wounded in action.
Locals said they had seen around 10 to 12 Boko Haram fighters being loaded into vehicles but it was not clear how many were dead or injured.
There was no immediate official response from army spokesman Brigadier General Texas Chukwu.
Gajiram has been attacked before during the Islamist insurgency, which left at least 20,000 people dead and displaced more than two million since it began in 2009. In February 2017, seven soldiers were killed in an attack on military positions. Fighters loyal to the Islamic State-backed faction headed by Abu Musab Al-Barnawi were blamed.
Barnawi split from the faction following long-time Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau in mid-2016 in opposition to his indiscriminate attacks on civilians.
Shekau has used suicide bombers against civilian "soft" targets such as camps for the displaced, mosques, markets, and bus stations. Barnawi in contrast has vowed to hit only "hard" targets such as the military and police.
On Saturday, six young girls strapped with explosives were blamed for blasts that killed 43 in Damboa, some 90 kilometres southwest of Maiduguri. More than 90,000 internally displaced people live in Damboa, the UN said on Saturday; 18,000 of them live in five camps.
The global organization said humanitarian access outside the town remained "limited due to ongoing hostilities and lack of safety assurances".
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Updated Date: Jun 20, 2018 10:51 AM