Nine Nigerian soldiers were killed and 14 others are missing feared abducted after an attack this week by suspected Boko Haram jihadists in the violence-torn northeast, security sources said Thursday.
Authorities had on Tuesday said five soldiers were killed and five others injured in the raid on a military post near the village of Sabon Garin Kimba about 140 kilometres (90 miles) from Maiduguri, the birthplace of Boko Haram. “The number of fatalities on our side has risen to nine with the discovery of four more bodies of our troops,” said a military officer with knowledge of the incident.
“Since the attack 14 other soldiers remain missing. Their fate is unknown,” said the officer who asked to remain anonymous because he was not authorised to speak on the incident. Scores of fighters loyal to the Boko Haram faction headed by Abu Musab Al-Barnawi stormed the checkpoint late Monday.
The Islamic State group last year appointed Al-Barnawi as head of Boko Haram, replacing long-time leader Abubakar Shekau. Mustapha Karimbe, a member of an anti-Boko Haram militia, said he feared the missing soldiers had been seized. “Fourteen soldiers are unaccounted for, they have been missing since the attack and the fear is that they have have been abducted by the terrorists,” Karimbe said.
The jihadists carrying heavy weapons engaged troops at the checkpoint in a shootout and forced the soldiers to withdraw. Karimbe said the jihadists took military vehicles and burned three armoured cars along with makeshift sheds. This was the second attack on the same military checkpoint in under a month.
Late last month, jihadists dressed in Nigerian military uniforms attacked the checkpoint and forced soldiers to withdraw before looting food and medical supplies from the village. Boko Haram has in recent weeks intensified attacks on military targets in the northeast. The insurgency began in northeast Nigeria and has spread to Chad, Cameroon and Niger, claiming more than 20,000 lives and displacing 2.6 million people.