Reinforcements sent to Adamawa state to fight Boko Haram walk near trucks as they arrive with the 23rd Armoured Brigade in Yola on May 20, 2013. Image from Reuters.
Nine Nigerian soldiers have been killed in an ambush by Boko Haram, a Nigerian terrorist group with ties to al Qaeda. The attack occurred yesterday in the village of Izhe in the Madagali local government area of Adamawa state, close to the borders with Borno state and Cameroon.
Reports indicate that following a tip-off, the soldiers had deployed to prevent a planned Boko Haram attack, only to find themselves walking into an ambush. At least nine soldiers lost their lives in the clash after they engaged heavily armed militants equipped with antiaircraft and antitank weapons mounted on their vehicles, which are also known as technicals.
Although efforts to contact the Brigade Commander for the area were unsuccessful, an anonymous military source confirmed to Punch Nigeria that the confrontation had taken place, but dismissed claims that the soldiers had been ambushed. According to the source, the soldiers carried out a raid on a Boko Haram hideout and “a fierce battle ensued between our soldiers and the insurgents which lasted several hours and both side lost men.”
In a differing account that echoed hospital sources, Madagali local government chairman Maina Ularamu stated: ‘[T]’the soldiers were going to repel a planned attack at Izhe, a border town, when they were ambushed by heavily armed insurgents. As I am talking to you, most villagers at the border areas have fled to Madagali, the administrative headquarters for fear of possible attacks by the insurgents. We are, however, calling on the government to station more troops with armored tanks. These Boko Haram insurgents are well armed with sophisticated weapons.”
Vanguard Newspaper reported today that the soldiers, who had received no aerial support in their battle with the heavily armed jihadists, are now protesting the tactical errors and disorganization that resulted in the deaths of their colleagues.
The lack of air support is especially significant given that just three days ago reports emerged that it took hours for the Nigerian air force to send aircraft to end Boko Haram’s deadly attack on Konduga village in Borno, 115 kilometers away.
Boko Haram has launched several massed attacks in northern Nigeria over the past year. In the most dramatic attack, hundreds of fighters assaulted an airbase on the outskirts of Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, using trucks and even a stolen armored personnel carrier. At least 20 security personnel and 24 insurgents were killed, while two helicopters and three decommissioned military aircraft were “incapacitated.”