A team of Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) operatives have said that soldiers opened fire on them after they repelled a Boko Haram invasion in Mainok, a town along the Maiduguri-Damaturu Road in Borno State, a report by TheCable has said.
A resident told TheCable that a combined team of SARS and Rapid Response Squad, both units in the police, confronted the insurgents after soldiers deserted the area.
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One of the SARS operatives who was deployed in Mainok after Boko Haram struck on Monday, told TheCable that his team spent over one hour battling the attackers.
He said after the Boko Haram fighters beat a retreat and the police teams were pulling out of the location, they came under attack from soldiers.
“We were deployed in Mainok after we got the information that Boko Haram was operating there. By the time we got there, Boko Haram had killed some people and destroyed their houses,” he said.
“We engaged them in a gun battle that lasted for over one hour. We overpowered them and seized two of their Hilux vehicles and weapons. Surprisingly as we were on our way out, we were attacked by some soldiers. They fired several RPGs (rocket propelled grenade) at us… one of the armoured personnel carriers (APCs) given to us by the IG was partially damaged.”
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The source said the officer who led the operation ordered his men not to fire back at the soldiers. He said things got under control after a reinforcement team of soldiers from Benisheikh, a neighbouring town, got to the location.
In the video obtained by TheCable, Ibrahim Muhammad, commander of SARS, narrated how his men tackled the insurgents and the encounter with the aggrieved soldiers.
“When we got there, we saw them (Boko Haram fighters); their identity was not even in doubt. Some were even taking cover beside the wall. We were on them, we were charging in, charging out,” Muhammad said in the video.
“Later, we noticed that they had escaped, the RRS briefed me that while they sighted them (the insurgents) moving in convoy on high speed at the southern part. We were then charging in finally, that was when I noticed that the people on my right hand side were soldiers… As we were coming, they were firing us and I said is it this people again?”
Abdul Kahlifa, general officer commanding 7 division of the army, interrupted him saying: “We will investigate it.”
He briefly inspected the bullet holes on the APC and added: “No problem, we are going to sort it out. Are we not happy to see you people like this? Are you people not happy to see us like this? That is how it should be. Well done! Well done.”
A soldier, who spoke off the record told TheCable that it was aggression that led his colleagues to open fire on the police team.
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“Boko Haram terrorists dislodged troops in that area and abducted about 10 soldiers. When the other soldiers who were not on ground at the time of the attack came back, they had an order to just open fire. So, they started shooting with that aggression.”
TheCable reports that Mohammed Aliyu, commissioner of police in Borno, and Olusegun Adeniyi, theatre commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, have met over the issue. It is unclear the resolutions reached at the meeting.
However, Musa Sagir, spokesman of the army, said he was not aware of the development.