Not less than 37 soldiers of the Nigeria Army Special Forces were killed on Tuesday, July 7, 2020, after a deadly ambush by suspected Boko Haram members, according to a report by Premium Times on Thursday, July 9, 2020.
The attack took place along the Maiduguri-Damboa highway.
The Nigerian military had on Wednesday, July 8, 2020, confirmed the attack but said only two soldiers died.
John Enenche, the coordinator of the defence military operations, said in a statement that the ambushed troops managed to “wriggle out of the assault to gun down 17 of the Boko Haram attackers”.
Enenche, a major general, said many of the Boko Haram/ISWAP attackers escaped with serious bullet injuries.
The military authorities in Abuja then directed the Theater Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole to “reinforce and dominate” the Damboa-Maiduguri road. Last week, ten soldiers, including a lieutenant, died in an ambush in the area.
Enenche’s claims contrasted with what some of the troops on the frontline are saying.
According to sources familiar with the incident, the military authority is only being economical with facts about the attack.
The sources, mostly serving soldiers in the front lines accused the military authorities of sweeping the sad development “under the carpet”.
How the attack happened
A source said “the attack occurred at about 7 p.m. on Tuesday when troops of 25 task force brigade, as well as soldiers from Sector 2 headquarters and those of 402/Special Task Force troops jointly departed the 25 Headquarters location for a fighting patrol along Damboa-Maiduguri road.
“The patrol team suddenly came in contact with an unconfirmed number of Boko Haram terrorists who were lying in ambush between Limanti and Bulabulin villages not far away from Damboa.”
The source said troops fought gallantly to escape the ambush, “but the insurgent kept on engaging them, so bad that the commander, one Colonel Bako, had to call for reinforcement.”
At the end of the fight, many casualties were recorded just as many soldiers were also missing in action, the source added.
“Initially about 27 soldiers were counted dead before more bodies were recovered which brought the death casualty to 37,” the source said.
Sources also revealed that the insurgents also carted away four gun trucks belonging to the Nigerian army.