Boko Haram kills 70 Nigerian soldiers
The Nigerian Army has suffered yet another devastating attack with the killing of over 70 soldiers by the radical Islamic terror group, Boko Haram, on Monday November 19 at the 157 Task Force Battalion in Metele, Guzamala Local Government Area, of Borno State, Northeastern Nigeria.
A soldier who survived the attack told Premium Times that the soldiers in Metele got a letter from the Boko Haram, on Friday 16 November, saying the battalion will be attack and surely, “the attack came at about 6 pm on Monday evening. When the soldier on top of the observation post alerted that a large number of Boko Haram fighters were advancing, we all got alarmed as we took cover and waited within the base in Metele,” the soldier whose name was withheld, said.
“When we realized the fight would be against us, we decided to retreat from the camp, but it was rather too late. The camp was surrounded with barbed wire… One of the drivers of the gun trucks decided to push through the barbed wire so that other vehicles could follow and escape, but the truck got stuck, that was how many of our soldiers in other vehicles and those on foot were massacred,” the soldier narrated.
According to the surviving soldier, the attack lasted about 45 minutes and the army lost all their caches of arms, ammunition, and military equipment to the jihadists. “Those that managed to escape with injuries made it on foot through Cross-Kauwa to Monguno where they boarded commercial vehicles, some even sat in the booth of the Golf cars to get to Maiduguri. Boko Haram made away with about seven gun trucks of the Nigeria army,” the soldier said.
Ahmad Salkida, a journalist with known access to Boko Haram, has claimed that the Al Barnawi faction known with ties to Islamic State West Africa Province, ISWAP, was behind the attack. “#ISWAP in Al-Naba news confirmed that it carried out attacks on a military base in Metele, on 18th and a second one on 19th/20th, when the military went to collect the fallen comrades. In all, the terror group claimed to have killed 100 soldiers.”
The Nigerian government had severally claimed that the Boko Haram Islamic terrorist group has been ‘defeated’ and that the army was only carrying out ‘mopping’ exercises. But harrowing stories from soldier fighting the jihadists in Borno and surrounding states indicate that the soldiers are unable to take on Boko Haram because “our morale has been dampened so badly – not only because we are not given our due allowances; but for the fact that we have been outgunned by the Boko Haram. The situation has gone so bad that it has gotten to a stage that soldiers would be rushing to pack up their camps and flee upon hearing the news that Boko Haram fighters are advancing,” the soldier lamented.
The soldier recalled previous encounters with Boko Haram terrorists where “about 75 of us from our own unit here in Maiduguri were deployed to the front line and it took the grace of God for about 40 of us to return alive.”
In October this year, the Boko Haram terrorist group attacked the same 157 Battalion outpost in Metele killing over 18 soldiers and many more were reported missing.
“The fact of the matter is that we still have a very large number of Boko Haram terrorists out there. As far as the Nigerian army is concerned, it will take more than ten years to chase out Boko Haram from our hinterlands, without the help of foreign forces.” The soldier declared. “We can only brag that we can defeat them; but in reality, we lack the capacity to do so, given the kind of approach we accord to prosecuting the war.”
The Nigerian government has not made any comments about the killing of the soldier and President Buhari was reported to be meeting with service chiefs on Saturday 24 November over the attack.
The Senate President Bukola Saraki said, concerning the attack on the floor of the senate, “We are all aware that a few days ago we lost about 44 brave soldiers of the Nigerian army in northern Borno… We must pay our respects to these brave men that have sacrificed and paid the ultimate sacrifice for our own safety and peace in our country.”
Biodun Olujimi, Senate minority leader, said “there is something government is not telling us over the death of these soldiers. We must know what we are facing and the conditions of the people fighting for us,” Olujimi said.
Hassan John is West Africa Editor GCN and Priest of the Anglican Diocese of Jos.