Indications emerged yesterday that the attack on troops by Boko Haram insurgents at Metele village, Guzamala Local Government Area, Borno State, which claimed many lives on Sunday, was possible because the attackers disguised as friendly soldiers.
A soldier, who escaped the attack by a whisker, said an advanced team of the insurgents had come into the base as friendly forces and went into the office of the commander where they fired him and five other soldiers that were with him in the office.
According to the source, the troops became confused when they heard the sound of gunshots from their commander’s office.
He said: “We saw some people dressed in full military uniform who came into our camp, but we thought they were friendly forces.
“They went straight to the office of our commander and shortly after, there were gunshots in the office.
“We became confused, waiting for orders but it was too late. Boko Haram had already surrendered us.
“They killed the commander with five other soldiers that were with him in the office.
“Before we knew it, there was heavy fire from Boko Haram from all sides of the camp with more fire at the entrance.
“One of our anti-bomb vehicles tried to charge through the barbwire but got hooked. It was a terrible fight.
“We couldn’t do much because their number and fire power were more than our own.”
Meanwhile, the army command in Maiduguri has evacuated the bodies of the soldiers that were killed by Boko Haram insurgents.
A military source disclosed that more than 70 bodies were evacuated to Maiduguri by the military after the Theatre Commander Operation Lafiya Dole and the GOC, 7 Div yesterday went to Monguno and strategised on recovering the bodies.
NE checks revealed that the first rescue and evacuation team was foiled after Boko Haram launched an attack on them and they were forced to withdraw.
The military source who spoke on condition of anonymity said more than 100 soldiers were feared dead in the Metele attack.
He added: “As at today, the bodies of some of the dead soldiers have been evacuated and brought to Maiduguri. More than 70 bodies have been brought, but I am sure many may not have been recovered.
“I am not sure, but the soldiers that died in that attack will be more than 100.”
NE could not verify the story with the army authorities yesterday as calls and text messages to the Army spokesman, Brig. Gen. Chukwu Texas, were not responded to.
NE checks also revealed that Boko Haram has sacked six military formations from that axis since September, each coming with a heavy casualties on the side of the Nigerian troops.
It will be recalled that Nigerian troops in Metele suffered a similar attack in September this year when about 18 Nigeria soldiers were killed while another 151 soldiers and six officers were declared missing in the same area in another devastating attack on 157 Battalion on October 8, 2018.
However, the official figure released by the military was that only seven soldiers were killed while 16 others were injured. They claimed to have killed at least 76 Boko Haram fighters in Metele as at then.