A Nigerian Army lieutenant colonel has been feared killed in action after Boko Haram insurgents attacked a military formation in Borno State on Wednesday.
The 158 Task Force Battalion in Mobba Local Government Area came under attack by the rampaging terrorists as the country was celebrating its new Democracy Day on June 12, military sources said.
Several casualties, including human and equipment, were reportedly inflicted on the military during the fire fight.
A lieutenant colonel, who has been leading the battalion as its commanding officer was pronounced killed.
The Army Headquarters in Abuja was said to have been alerted to the development, and an emergency team of rescuer had been deployed to manage the aftermath.
Military sources said the insurgents had since receded to a remote location around Fuchimiram Village, about six kilometres west of Kareto where the incident occurred in Mobba LGA.
There were widespread expectations amongst military personnel that the Nigerian Air Force would scramble available fighter jets to conduct airstrikes around Fuchimiram Village to neutralise the insurgents hibernating there, but concerns also remained about whether the operation would be timely enough for desired result.
The attack coincided with a similar assault on Cameroonian military by the same Boko Haram wing, leaving several Cameroonian soldiers killed on their side of the 10-year-long insurgency. Boko Haram claimed credits for 88 casualties, including dozens of Cameroonian troops, reports said.
A spokesperson for the Nigerian Army, Sagir Musa, did not immediately answer telephone calls seeking comments about the latest attack that saw a senior military officer and his subordinates killed in action.
Reporters have withheld the identity of the lieutenant colonel to allow the military enough time to send notice to his relatives. His colleagues describe him as a gallant officer who led his troops to inflict damage on the terrorists in the recent past.
The development may likely prompt another reshuffling in Nigeria’s anti-Boko Haram strategy, coming barely a month after a lieutenant colonel and commanding officer of the 145 Task Force Battalion was killed in action.
“The attacks are not going to cease as the terrorists are desperate,” a military chief told reporters amidst anxiety Thursday night. “There is urgent need to inform all units in the axes covering Damasak, Mallam Fatori, Magumeri, Gubio to be on high alert, since insurgents are often emboldened to launch more attacks during the rainy season.”
Although attacks on military formations have spiked since July 2018, Nigerian military brass and President Muhammadu Buhari have insisted the war was nearing its conclusion.