The Nigerian Army has confirmed that an officer and six soldiers died on Sunday in a counterinsurgency operation which involved airstrikes in Mainok, Borno State.
Brigadier-General Mohammed Yerima, Director of Army Public Relations, made this known in a statement on Monday.
There have been confusion over the fate of soldiers who participated in the Mainok operation on Sunday, with some reports claiming that they were killed by the terrorist group, Boko Haram, while others insinuated that they may have been mistakenly targetted and killed by the Nigerian Air Force.
Following the controversy, the NAF said it was investigating the airstrike and would provide an update soon.
According to the army’s statement, its personnel were attacked by insurgents mounted on an unconfirmed number of gun trucks, and foot soldiers with the possible intent of establishing a phantom caliphate in Mainok town.
It noted that the soldiers lured a number of the terrorists into a killing zone within their camp during their duel, adding that the ground troops were supported by the Air Task Force of Operation Lafiya Dole, which scrambled Alpha jets and helicopter gunboats which took turns to decimate the trapped terrorists.
While it confirmed the death of the seven soldiers, the statement was, however, silent on how they died on the battlefield.
The statement read: “On Sunday 25 April 2021, troops of Operation Lafiya Dole deployed in Mainok, Borno State, came under multi-directional attacks by Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists mounted on an unconfirmed number of Gun Trucks as well as foot soldiers with the possible intent of establishing a phantom caliphate in the town.
“The terrorists were held by the gallant troops of 156 Task Force Battalion until the arrival of reinforcement teams from 7 Division, Special Army Super Camp Ngamdu and Army Super Camp 4, Benesheik.
“During the firefight which lasted several hours, the gallant troops tactically lured a number of the terrorists into a killing zone within their camp where the Air Task Force of Operation Lafiya Dole scrambled Alpha jets and helicopter gunboats which took turns in decimating the already trapped terrorists.
“In the aftermath of the encounter, scores of Boko Haram terrorists were neutralised with their body parts littering the area and a number of their gun trucks destroyed.
“Regrettably, one gallant Officer and six soldiers paid the supreme sacrifice while 5 other soldiers sustained various degrees of injuries.
“The wounded soldiers have already been evacuated to the military medical facility for treatment.”
The army insisted that it is control of the town, adding that efforts are ongoing to capture the fleeing terrorists.
Lieutenant-Gen Ibrahim Attahiru, the Chief of Army Staff, applauded troops of Operation Lafiya Dole for their resilience, commitment, and doggedness and further reassured Nigerians of the Army’s unalloyed commitment to defeating Boko Haram