Some troops of the Nigerian Army, who went missing in action, following the Boko Haram terrorists’ attacks on a military base in Jilli, Yobe State, and Bama, Borno State, have yet to be found, according to reliable military sources on Saturday.
Our correspondent learnt that the army bases in both locations were making frantic efforts to locate the displaced soldiers as well as recover at least three military gun trucks which were still missing.
“I can confirm to you that not all the ‘missing-in-action soldiers’ have been found. We are still looking for several of them. Some gun trucks are also yet to be recovered.
“We have just been promised logistics’ support by the army chief. This means the supply of more war equipment and food items, which were the major things carted away by the insurgents,” a source said in an interview with SUNDAY PUNCH.
The number of soldiers still missing as of Saturday was uncertain as the army authorities had kept mum on the development.
The army base in Jilli was reportedly attacked last week by the Boko Haram insurgents, when at least 20 soldiers were said to have died and about 20 others injured.
This was preceded by a Boko Haram ambush of a military convoy in Bama, Borno State, where hundreds of soldiers were displaced in the ensuing gunfire and some members of the Civilian Joint Task Force said to have been killed.
Some soldiers reportedly died also with conflicting figures from multiple sources.
One of the sources, close to Bama, had said, “About 10 corpses of soldiers ambushed in Borno have been recovered. The army is still looking for the rest of them. The terrorists are said to be from the Al-Barnawi faction.”
The Director of Army Public Relations, Brig Gen. Texas Chukwu, had said on Wednesday that the attack on Jilli was “very unfortunate” while denying that any soldier was killed in the incident.
Chukwu also stated that the terrorist attack on Bama to “cart away operational vehicles” was repelled by troops, adding that only an officer and a soldier sustained injuries.
Our correspondent, however, learnt that the loss in both army locations was so huge that it forced the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, and other top commanders from the army headquarters, Abuja, to visit the North-East and assess the situation on the ground.
The army chief thereafter promised the 21 Brigade in Bama “adequate logistics support” to aid their operations.”
Our correspondent learnt on Saturday that there was still tension in Jilli and Bama over soldiers who had yet to be found, either dead or alive.
Multiple sources confirmed to our correspondent that the gun trucks and other ammunition, carted away by the insurgents, had also yet to be recovered.
“We are trying to boost the troops’ morale to prepare for other assaults. It is clear that the terrorists are trying to remain relevant. They are in search of arms and ammunition and that is why they target our bases. We will not allow them,” a source added.
A journalist, said to be well-informed about the sect’s activities, Ahmad Salkida, had taken to Twitter on Wednesday to describe the death toll in the attack on Jilli as “staggering.”
Ahmad said, “There should be a national mourning. We had never this type of incident before in the Lake Chad crisis that the military been caught on the wrong footing as it’s evident in the latest attack on Jilli.
“There is a grave sense of despair among officers and men. The toll is staggering,” say multiple sources.