More than 620 Nigerian troops are unaccounted for after “hundreds” of Boko Haram jihadists overran two military bases in separate attacks over the weekend in northeastern Nigeria. The African country’s president recently claimed Nigeria is in a “post-conflict stability phase.”
The Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL)-linked terrorists reportedly seized weapons and military vehicles from the bases.
Nigeria’s Daily Trust reports:
Over six hundred soldiers are still missing after suspected Boko Haram militants overran a military base in Yobe State on Saturday, credible sources told Daily Trust yesterday [Sunday]. Many Boko Haram militants dressed in military apparel and armed with sophisticated weapons got access to a military facility in Jilli, a village in Yobe State close to the border with Borno State in the fringes of Lake Chad.
“About 100 of the troops that disappeared from the base in Jilli after the clash have reported in Geidam town, but very few of them had their weapons with them,” the source told Daily Trust.
“We don’t know if there were any casualties among the troops. That will be known later,” an unnamed military source also told the Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency.
AFP quoted a resident from the site of the attack, Fannami Gana, as saying that the Nigerian troops “were overwhelmed by hundreds of Boko Haram gunmen.”
Early on Saturday, “around 100” Boko Haram terrorists also stormed a separate base in northeastern Nigeria’s Borno State, the birthplace of the jihadist group, AFP reports, citing Nigerian Army spokesman Texas Chukwu.
Some news outlets report that the attack took place late on Friday.
Nigeria’s Premium Times notes:
No fewer than 23 Nigerian soldiers are yet to be accounted for after Boko Haram insurgents ambushed a military convoy at Boboshe village in Bama Local Government Area of Borno State. Five officers, 18 soldiers, and eight trucks were missing after the attack which occurred early on Saturday.
The [state-owned] News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) [learned] that the military, acting on intelligence, mobilized troops in a convoy of 11 trucks to clear the insurgents from the deserted village. The attacking insurgents were believed to have been those who escaped the ongoing offensive by the military to flush out the Boko Haram terrorists in the fringes of Sambisa Forest and Lake Chad region. A competent military source told NAN that the insurgents in their hundreds ambushed the troops. Since then, many of the soldiers have been missing.
China’s state-owned Xinhua news agency learned that the army spokesman Chukwu dismissed media reports that troops were missing following the ambush in Borno as “untrue.”
Regarding the 600-plus Nigerian troops who remain missing from the base in Yobe, the military spokesman told AFP, “I am not aware of the attack because (I) have not received information from there.”
The Sambisa Forest, which covers parts of the northeastern Nigerian states of Borno, Yobe, Gombe, Bauchi, and Kano, is considered Boko Haram’s last major stronghold in the country.
Boko Haram jihadists have been terrorizing northeastern Nigeria since 2009, leaving at least 20,000 people dead and forcing more than 2.6 million others to flee.
On several occasions since it came to power in 2015, the administration of embattled Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and its military have insisted that the Islamic terrorists are on the verge of defeat despite ample evidence to the contrary, acknowledged AFP.
According to AFP, Buhari issued remarks on July 6 that go “further” than before “as it implies a total end to hostilities.”
“It’s evident that we are in a post-conflict stability phase, which has been made possible by the good work of our armed forces,” the Nigerian president declared.
The Boko Haram assaults on the military bases days after Buhari’s statement proved the president wrong once again.
AFP notes, “The two assaults have highlighted the tenuous hold Nigerian forces have on the ravaged region despite claims by President Muhammadu Buhari’s government that the country is in a ‘post-conflict stabilization phase.’”
The Nigerian military has made military gains under President Buhari, but Boko Haram-perpetrated “suicide bombings and raids remain a constant threat, particularly to civilians.”