Boko Haram terrorists have shot dead 13 soldiers and a police officer in an ambush along Maiduguri-Damaturu Road in Borno State.
Our correspondent learnt that the soldiers attached to 1 Division of the Nigerian Army were on an escort duty on Monday when the terrorists ambushed them and opened fire on them.
According to the army, the troops tried to repel the terror attack and engaged the terrorists in a fire fight, during which the 13 were killed.
Our correspondent learnt that the terrorists also attacked a military base in Kukareta in the Damaturu Local Government Area of Yobe State.
The terrorists reportedly attempted to overrun the Forward Operational Base at Kukareta around 6.30pm on Monday, resulting in a gun battle.
The Operation Lafiya Dole Theatre Command’s spokesman and Deputy Director, Army Public Relations, Col Onyema Nwachukwu, who confirmed both incidents, said the bodies of the soldiers and the policeman had been recovered while the injured troops were receiving treatment.
He said, “Troops of 1 Division on an escort duty along Damaturu-Maiduguri road fought through an ambush staged by the Boko Haram terrorists.
“The gallant troops engaged the terrorists in a fire-fight, courageously wading through the ambush. Sadly, thirteen soldiers and a policeman paid the supreme price while extricating themselves from the ambush.
“A clearance operation to pursue and eliminate the Boko Haram terrorists ambush is still ongoing. The bodies of the gallant soldiers and the policeman and the wounded have been evacuated. The wounded soldier is currently receiving treatment.
“Also, troops repelled a Boko Haram terrorists’ attack on a Forward Operational Base at Kukareta. The terrorists who attacked the location met a fierce response of the vigilant troops who engaged and overpowered them, killing several of the terrorists. Unfortunately, a soldier was wounded in the encounter.”
Meanwhile, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, has urged troops prosecuting the counter-terrorism operation in the North-East to be wary of Boko Haram’s propaganda.
In a Christmas and New Year message to the troops on Tuesday, Buratai said it was evident that the terrorists had been defeated.
“Thus, they have now resorted to employing propaganda in order to demoralise you by spreading false messages of strength and invincibility.
“It is pertinent for troops to understand that Boko Haram terrorists are nothing but a band of criminals. Therefore, you must all prepare to clear and flush out their remnants.
“We have superior training, fire power and experience. We have a history of successes on the battlefield both at home and abroad,” the army chief said.
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He also urged them to reflect their superior training, fire power and experiences and bring them to bear in the ongoing operations.
Buratai thanked them for the good job they did in 2018 and urged them to make greater progress in 2019.
He commended the troops for their gallantry, efforts and sacrifices.
“I congratulate you for your bravery, doggedness and loyalty in these endeavours,’’ he said.
The army chief urged them to maintain the momentum and remain steadfast, professional and responsive in carrying out their constitutional roles.
On the 2019 elections, Buratai admonished officers and soldiers to remain apolitical and dedicated to their assigned roles.
He said, “Let me use this medium to reassure you of the Federal Government’s commitment to your welfare with the requisite support for us to perform our duties.
“Also, the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari, has pledged his total support to the Armed Forces to bring all ongoing operations to logical conclusion.’’
He urged them to use the festive season which heralds peace and merriment for sober reflection and introspection.
“I enjoin us all to continue to pray to the Almighty God for the repose of the souls of our fallen comrades and for peace in our nation.
“We will not renege on our promise to cater for the well-being of the families of our brave fallen heroes,’’ he said.