Only 29 soldiers died during last week’s ambush of troops at Goniri and Gorgi by Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs), Nigeria Army Operations Media Coordinator, Col. Aminu Iliyasu has said.
The military had earlier told reporters that initial information available indicated that 47 soldiers were killed in the attacks that occurred on March 22 and 23, noting that further verification would be given after stocks must have been taken at the bases of troops attached to Operation LAFIYA DOLE.
Making the clarifications on Friday, Col Iliyasu said the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai sent a delegation led by Chief of Training and Operations (Army), Maj.-Gen. Enobong Udoh to the northeast to ascertain the state of affairs.
Others in the delegation which spent two days in the area, included Chief of Military Intelligence, Maj.-Gen. Samuel Adebayo, Director, Campaign Planning, Maj.-Gen. Christopher Musa and Deputy Director, Peacekeeping Operations, Colonel Samaila Uba.
Iliyasu also said a visit to 7 Division Medical Services and Hospital in Maimalari Cantonment by the delegation revealed there were 61 injured personnel including seven officers being treated in the hospital.
He said the 61 wounded comprised those from previous encounters as well as personnel who sustained injuries in the ambush.
Iliyasu said: “On arrival at Maiduguri at about 6pm on March 24, the COAS proceeded straight to the Headquarters, Theatre Command, Operation LAFIYA DOLE, where he was briefed on the said encounter by the Theatre Commander, Maj.-Gen. Olusegun Adeniyi. The Theatre Commander explained that, on March 22, having captured and cleared Gorgi of the Boko Haram insurgents, he led the troops to harbour about five kilometers ahead of the location.
“However, at about 7am on March 22, when the troops were preparing to continue with their advance to clear other Boko Haram enclaves in the area, the insurgents attacked the rear elements of the advance force in an attempt to overrun them.
“The gallant troops repelled the attack, inflicting heavy casualty on the terrorists. In the aftermath of that encounter, no less than 150 Boko Haram terrorists were neutralised by the gallant troops while a large number of them retreated with gunshot wounds. Many of their equipment were also destroyed.
“However, 29 personnel of Operation LAFIYA DOLE paid the supreme price during the encounter as a result of the multiple explosions that occurred when the engine of an army truck conveying artillery bombs, explosives and other munitions caught fire after being hit by a Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) bomb fired by the insurgents.
He noted that some soldiers sustained various degrees of injuries and were evacuated to the 7 Division Hospital Maimalari Cantonment where they are responding to treatment.
Iliyasu said the delegation proceeded to Headquarters Sector 2 in Damaturu after a thorough briefing by the Theatre Commander on Wednesday morning, March 25.
He said the COAS addressed the troops that took part in the Gorgi operations, adding that they were in high spirits following their resounding victory over the terrorists during the encounter.