A sudden rise in Boko Haram attacks over the last three months has forced the Nigerian military to fine-tune its counter-insurgency operations in the war-ravaged North-east, Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai said on Wednesday.
The army chief also said the terrorists now use drones and foreign fighters in their operations.
Mr Buratai described the exploits of the jihadists as “daring,” saying it threatened to erode the previously recorded achievements in the counter-terrorism efforts.
Boko Haram has carried out successful, back-to-back attacks on Nigerian military bases since July, leaving heavy personnel and equipment losses in their wake.
Mr Buratai lamented the recent attack on Nigerian Army 157 Task Force Battalion in Metele, Borno State, on November 18. At least 118 soldiers, including the battalion’s commander, were killed in the attack, PREMIUM TIMES learnt from top military sources, who also confirmed at least 153 missing in action. Mr Buratai, however, says only 23 soldiers were killed in the Metele attack.
The army chief said the attacks have put the military’s resolve to test, but assured the insurgency would be uprooted before long.
“Since 2015, the Nigerian Army, in conjunction with sister services and other security agencies have systematically degraded the capabilities and capacity of Boko Haram terrorists and many successes were achieved.
“However, in the last 2 – 3 months, we have noticed daring moves by the terrorists, increased use of drones against our defensive positions and infusion of foreign fighters in their ranks. These potent threats require us to continually review our operations,” Mr Buratai said at the 2018 Chief of Army Staff Annual Conference in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital where Boko Haram has waged its devastating campaign since 2009.
Security experts have long warned that Boko Haram was recruiting foreign elements to help advance its jihadist cause in Nigeria. The Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA) has claimed responsibility for most of the attacks targeting Nigerian military assets.
Mr Buratai’s comments, circulated by Sani Usman, immediate-past spokesperson for the Nigerian Army, said Boko Haram also suffered heavy losses in the three-month period, which spoke to the gallantry and resilience Nigerian troops.
Borno villages of Kukawa, Ngoshe, Kareto and Gajiram came under attack at different times” over the past two weeks, from November 2-17, Mr Buratai said. “Each of these incidents were successfully repelled and several members of the terrorists were killed.”
Mr Buratai said the 16 military personnel were killed and 12 wounded in action during the period.
The military has reportedly intensified offensive against Boko Haram positions since the attack on November 18. PRNigeria, a public relations firm close to the militart, cited military sources as saying the Nigerian Air Force carried out a series of aerial bombardments of Boko Haram hideouts since November 25.