World Bulletin / News Desk
Nigeria's military on Friday said seven of its soldiers were killed and 19 others injured in a Boko Haram ambush, in the latest incident against troops and the security services in the country's northeast.
Lieutenant Colonel Kingsley Samuel, a spokesman for the Nigerian Army 7th Division in Maiduguri, said the ambush happened on Thursday evening on the road to Dikwa during "routine rotation" of troops.
"The gallant troops fought their way through, killing many of the terrorists. Unfortunately seven soldiers paid the supreme price... while 19 soldiers sustained various degree of injuries," he said in a statement.
The injured were taken to hospital in Maiduguri for treatment. Reinforcements were sent and they were in "aggressive pursuit" of Boko Haram, he added.
A military source had earlier told AFP at least eight soldiers were killed in the attack and that it happened at about 9:00 am (0800 GMT) on Friday at Ajirin village, in the Mafa area of Borno state.
The source, who requested anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to the media, described the battle as "a heavy gunfight".
"It was a surprise attack and this is what led to the casualty toll," the source added.
Conflicting death tolls and accounts are not uncommon in the remote region, access to which is strictly controlled by the military and government, making independent verification difficult.
At least 20,000 people have been killed in the Boko Haram conflict since it began in 2009. More than 2.6 million have been made homeless.
Nigeria's military and government have claimed repeatedly in recent months that Boko Haram, which is allied to the ISIL group, is in disarray and nearly defeated.
The army has mounted a sustained counterattack against the group in its Borno state stronghold of the Sambisa forest. In December, commanders said the rebels had been flushed out.
Sporadic attacks since then have been attributed to desperate Boko Haram remnants on the run.
Nevertheless, there have been a number of attacks on military and police targets in Borno and the neighbouring states of Yobe and Adamawa, as well as deadly suicide bombings.
Residents in the village of Kautikeri, in southern Borno state, said Boko Haram killed one person and abducted a seven-year-old boy from the neighbouring village of Kaumutaiyahi on Thursday.
The rebels looted food stores before setting fire to the village, which is some 15 kilometres from the town of Chibok, where Boko Haram abducted more than 200 schoolgirls in April 2014.
Chibok is also near Boko Haram's Sambisa forest camps. Thursday's raid and recent attacks on the road between Damboa and Maiduguri have prompted speculation the militants are still in the area.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 11 Şubat 2017, 12:53