THE military yesterday confirmed that about 13 personnel and a police officer were killed in an ambush laid by Boko Haram insurgents on Damaturu-Maiduguri road on Monday.
But the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, has urged troops in the Northeast to remain focused in wiping out the terrorists.
It noted that the military personnel and the police officer were killed while extricating themselves from the ambush.
A statement by the Deputy Director, Army Public Relations, Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, said that a soldier was killed in another encounter with terrorists at Kureta in Damaturu Local Government Area of Yobe State.
Col Nwachukwu, who is the spokesperson of the Theatre Command of Operation Lafiya Dole, said the bodies of the gallant soldiers and the policeman as well as wounded soldiers had been evacuated.
He said: “Troops repelled a Boko Haram terrorists’ attack on a Forward Operational Base at Kukareta in Damaturu Local Government Area of Yobe state.
“The terrorists, who attacked the location at about 6.30 pm, met with prompt and fierce response of the vigilant troops who engaged and overpowered them, killing several of the terrorists. Unfortunately however, a soldier was wounded in the encounter.
“In another encounter, troops of 1 Division on escort duty along Damaturu -Maiduguri Road yesterday fought through an ambush staged by Boko Haram terrorists. The gallant troops engaged the terrorists in a fire fight, courageously wading through the ambush.
“Sadly, 13 military and police personnel, including a police officer, paid the supreme price while extricating themselves from the ambush. A clearance operation to pursue and eliminate the Boko Haram terrorists ambush party is still ongoing.
“The bodies of the gallant soldiers and the policeman and the wounded have been evacuated. The wounded soldier is currently receiving treatment.”
However, a statement by Army’s spokesman, Brig.-Gen. Sani Usman said the COAS visited the troops during the holiday to boost their morale, urging them to remain resolute in wiping out the terrorists from the northeast.
Brig.-Gen. Usman said: “The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. TY Buratai along with Principal Staff Officers, Corps Commanders and other senior officers of the Nigerian Army held a Christmas luncheon with troops of Operation LAFIYA DOLE in the Northeast of Nigeria.
“Specifically, the COAS was at Forward Operation Base (FOB) Delwa, Konduga Local Government Area (LGA) of Borno State where he felicitated with the officers and soldiers of the FOB and 7 Division Garrison on Wednesday 26th December 2018.
“In his address to the troops, he paid tribute to the gallant officers and soldiers that that paid the supreme price in the course of fighting terrorism and insurgency. He also congratulated the troops for their bravery and steadfastness.
“The COAS further informed the troops that the government and Nigerians appreciate their efforts. He also said that the President has promised total support to the military in order to bring the conflict to logical end.
“He, however, warned the troops to be wary of Boko Haram terrorists’ misinformation and propaganda aimed at demoralising the troops to break their cohesion and fighting spirit.”
The COAS told the troops: “You have decimated the Boko Haram terrorists, but they want to brainwash you through propaganda. You should not believe their lies and misinformation.
“There are several elements who don’t wish Nigeria well hence their concerted efforts to bring disaffection among the officers and soldiers into logger head through false information and claims on the social media.”
He promised that Army under his watch, would continue to do its best for the soldiers, adding that the officers love soldiers more than anyone else and will never play with troops welfare and well-being.
Gen. Usman said: “The COAS also said that the Nigerian Army have made significant progress and sacrifices in the fight against terrorism and insurgency in the country, what is remaining is to clear the remnants of the Boko Haram terrorists through offensive actions, long range patrols and ambushes.”
The highlight of the occasion was field training by the troops, and a lunch in which Lt. Gen. Buratai, Prinicpal Staff Officers, Theatre Commander, GOC 7 Division and Commander Sector 2 Operation LAFIYA DOLE personally served the soldiers with food and drinks.
“Those that accompanied the COAS included: the Chief of Training and Operations (Army), Maj-Gen. LO Adeosun, the Director Military Intelligence, Maj-Gen SA Adebayo, Chief of Account of Budget (Army), Maj-Gen CU Agunlanna, Theatre Commander, Operation LAFIYA DOLE, Maj-Gen BA Akinroluyo and the Acting Provost Marshal (Army), Brig.-Gen. H Ahmed.
“Others were: the Acting General Officer Commanding 7 Division, who is also Commander Sector 1 Operation LAFIYA DOLE, Brig.Gen. Bulama Biu and Commander Sector 2 and Brig.-Gen. MB Dala, amongst others.
“The COAS was also represented by other Principal Staff Officers, Corps Commanders and other senior officers at the various locations of Nigerian Army deployments in Operation LAFIYA DOLE, where they also had lunch with the troops and deliver his goodwill message and words of encouragement. The visitation to troops locations and celebrations with them continues.”