Some units of the Nigerian Army 213 battalion, Operation Task Force Mike and 234 battalion, which attempted to retake Gwoza Township from Islamist militant Boko Haram, beat a hasty retreat on Thursday night as the militants showed superior firepower, SaharaReporters has learned.
The soldiers were reported to have been led into the battle by Lieutenant BMG Martins and Lt. Colonel Agu of the 234 Battalion, formerly Special Operations Battalion (SOB), but they were given the surprise of their lives when they ran into stiff resistance from the militants as they advanced on Gwoza from the Madagali axis.
The soldiers retreated but the militants set off in hot pursuit, chased them and snatched one of their tanks as well as the driver of the tank. They then called the soldier’s wife and informed her that her husband was in captivity.
Col. Agu has himself not been since then.
SaharaReporters sources said that following the encounter, some 30 Hilux pick up vans were used to bring back to Mubi in Adamawa State several wounded and dead soldiers.
The defeat of Nigerian soldiers in Gwoza puts the strategic town firmly in the hands of Boko Haram militants three days after they first invaded the town, killing over 100 civilians and several soldiers.
It is the second time in 24 hours that Nigerians soldiers were defeated by Boko Haram in an attempt to retake Gwoza. The army had recently retaken Damoboa, over two weeks after Boko Haram overran the town and planted its flag.
Nigerian army sources in Abuja said that following the attack, they have yet to find Lt. Col Agu. They further confirmed that about three military alpha jets have been deployed to the area to assist in the rescue of soldiers who might be trapped in mountains surrounding Gwoza.
Military sources blame the Brigade commander for asking the contingent to withdraw from Gwoza after they made contact with the terrorists, adding that the hasty retreat emboldened Boko Haram militants to chase and kill the soldiers during the unusual retreat.