Nigerian troops have foiled an attempt by Boko Haram fighters to overrun a military base in the restive northeast leaving six soldiers wounded, the army said on Saturday.
Troops “successfully repelled [a] Boko Haram terrorist attack” on a base in Arege in Borno state on Friday, October 12, army spokesman Texas Chukwu said in a statement.
“Several members of the Boko Haram terrorists were neutralised while others fled with gunshot wounds during the encounter,” he said.
“Unfortunately, six soldiers sustained various degrees of injuries and are currently receiving medical attention at the military facility.”
The Nigerian army often downplays casualties.
Arege is in the lake Chad region, near the border with Chad and Niger.
On August 29, the Islamic State-affiliated Boko Haram faction claimed to have killed “several” Nigerian soldiers in mortar strikes on the Arege military base. The claim could not be independently verified.
Boko Haram intensifies campaign in northeast Nigeria
Boko Haram has lately intensified its armed campaign, launching a number of major assaults on military bases in Nigeria’s remote northeast region. Scores of soldiers have been killed, injured or are missing in the latest wave of attacks, but the military has repeatedly denied or played down losses.
Boko Haram is divided into two factions that have competing goals and operational methods. One, led by Abubakar Shekau, is notorious for suicide bombings and indiscriminate killings of civilians. The other, known as Islamic State West Africa Province and led by Abu Mus’ab Al-Barnawi, largely focuses on attacking military and government targets.
ISWAP is dominant around the shores of Lake Chad, while the Shekau-led faction is concentrated in rural areas of Borno state.
ISWAP has in recent months been blamed for increasing attacks on military bases in Borno and nearby Yobe state.
More radical elements are said to have recently taken over the ISWAP leadership, killing the group’s de fatco leader, as well as another commander who allegedly planned to surrender along with 300 hostages. ISWAP has previously vowed to hit only military and government “hard” targets.
On October 8, Boko Haram militants launched a seven-hour attack on a military base in Metele near the border with Niger, leaving seven soldiers dead and 16 wounded, according to the military.
But civilian militia sources said 18 soldiers were killed in that attack and several weapons stolen or destroyed.
On September 25, Nigerian troops repelled a Boko Haram attempt to infiltrate their location in Gashigar in Borno state.
Two days earlier, troops repelled another attempt by Boko Haram to overrun a military base in the village of Kekeno, near the garrison town of Monguno in Borno. A fighter jet was deployed that forced the jihadists to withdraw after an hours-long assault.
On September 12, Nigerian soldiers repelled an attempted Boko Haram attack on a base in Damasak, in the far north of Borno state on the border with Niger.
The recent surge undermines repeated claims by the military that the insurgent group has been defeated, and Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari’s insistence that Boko Haram are a spent force as he gears up for elections next year.
The jihadist insurgency is in its ninth year and has left more than 27,000 people dead and displaced 2.6 million. Although Boko Haram no longer controls the swathes of territory in northeast Nigeria it did at its 2014 height, its militants still pose a threat to the region.
With reporting from AFP