Boko Haram insurgents yesterday attacked a military convoy, injuring three soldiers and killing six civilians.
This is even as the military denied the killing of eight people outside a church in Kwamjilari village, which is 30 kilometres east of Chibok, Borno State.
The soldiers from Operation LAFIYA DOLE were said to be escorting commercial vehicles from Damboa to Maiduguri, Borno State, when they came under attack at Sanda village.
Three soldiers were said to have been seriously injured in the attack while five civilians died on the spot and another died on the way to the hospital.
Acting Director, Army Public Relations, Colonel Sani Usman, said the wounded soldiers have since been evacuated to Maiduguri for further medical attention.
Usman, who made this known in Abuja, said patrol teams have been despatched to the area to reinforce the troops on ground and pursue the terrorists”. Troops are on the heels of the attackers and would not relent till they are apprehended or killed”. He said.
The Army spokesman, in a statement, also debunked the attack on Chibok, where it was alleged that eight people were killed.
He said what “happened was that, two persons were murdered at Kwamjilari village, (which is over 30 kilometres from Chibok, and very close to Sambisa forest), by suspected remnants of Boko Haram terrorists looking for food”.
According to him, “we wish to reiterate that they weren’t killed outside or near a church as being bandied around.
The people from the said village are all in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp in Chibok.
“Those who went back to the village without authorization were moved back to Chibok two weeks ago.
“Those killed went back on their own, contrary to security advice.
“Nevertheless, a patrol team was sent from Chibok went to the village this morning. Adequate measures would be taken to ensure no one goes back to the village for now,” he added.
Earlier, a resident had claimed eight people were killed outside a church.
“Some of the worshippers remained around the church and the gunmen opened fire, eight men died,” said Luka Damina, from nearby Kautikeri village, where the villages fled.
“Unknown to the residents, the gunmen had stationed some of their comrades on the road leading out of the village. They shot anyone who tried to flee. Many people ran into the bush with gunshot wounds. But so far, we can only confirm eight deaths”. He said.
The attackers set fire to homes and fields of maize that were almost ready for harvest, according to a local chief in Kautikeri, who confirmed the casualty figure.
The chief said soldiers were later deployed in Kwamjilari from Chibok — the scene of a notorious kidnapping in 2014 when more than 200 schoolgirls were seized.
A similar attack in the area last month left 10 people dead and saw 13 others kidnapped, while homes were looted and set on fire. Both raids bore the hallmarks of Boko Haram Islamists, who have frequently attacked villages, churches and mosques across the North-east and beyond since 2009.
Nigeria’s military maintains it now has the upper hand against the insurgents in a conflict that has left at least 20,000 dead and made more than 2.6 million people homeless. But such sporadic attacks underline the continuing difficulty in securing remote rural areas.