The Nigerian Army may have downplayed the casualties suffered when fighters of ISWAP attacked its super camp in Mainok, Borno state on Sunday.
While the army said seven soldiers, including a commanding officer died, multiple reports said more than 30 soldiers died when the militants overran the army base.
But chastened by the losses in Mainok, Nigerian troops launched preemptive strikes against ISWAP and Boko Haram in Wulgo and Gwoza axis of Borno on Monday.
In decisive efforts, Nigeria troops ambushed and conducted clearance operations killing scores of ISWAP/ Boko Haram terrorists, PR Nigeria reported.
The military in contrast were taken by surprise in Mainok by the militants, who only pulled back in the face of air strikes.
Reuters, quoting three soldiers and a resident reported that the attackers were believed to belong to the regional offshoot of Islamic State.
They hit the base in Mainok town in northeast Borno state on Sunday afternoon, the soldiers and the resident said.
In a statement issued Monday evening, a military spokesman said that one officer and six soldiers were killed and five were wounded in the attack.
The statement said troops had killed scores of militants and were now in full control of the area.
But sources told Reuters that 33 soldiers were killed in Sunday’s attack.
The militants wore military camouflage and arrived in around 16 gun trucks and six mine-resistant military vehicles, one of the soldiers said.
After several hours, they captured the base and soldiers called in airstrikes.
More soldiers were killed when militants ambushed reinforcements sent to help, the soldier sources said.
A resident said the attackers also set ablaze the town’s police headquarters.
“I saw them while fighting with soldiers,” resident Ba Umar Abba Tuja told Reuters.
“When the fighter jet started hovering in the air, the (militants) fled to the community and hid in the primary school.”
Tuja said the militants left around midnight.
One soldier said air strikes had hit army troops due to their similar dress as the militants.
The Air Force, in a post on Twitter, said it was investigating the incident.
Mainok is roughly 55 km (30 miles) from Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state.
In the Gwoza and Wulgo axis, Nigerian troops repelled attacks and pre-empted attempted strikes.
A military source said: “At Wulgo near Gamboru, the air taskforce was able to destroy two gun trucks of the terrorists while the ground troops captured three other gun trucks.
Bodies of the terrorists littered the areas.
There was no casualty on the side of the troops.
“The Gwoza operation was successfully executed after credible intelligence indicated that terrorists were advancing towards Lokodissa- Yamtake with a mission to infiltrate military facility in axis.
“The strategic ambush was so successfully carried out in this rocky and hilly town that borders Cameroon.
Troops also cleared Boko Haram settlements and Camps in mountainous Kwatara axis at Mandara Mountain.
During fire fight, the troops pursued terrorists beyond Mango plantation.
The military source said: “With the support of multinational Joint Taskforce in conjunction with the Civilian JTF, the troops pursued the terrorists who fled uphill.
Because of the rugged terrain, the military deployed mortar, artillery and Multi Barrel Rocket Launcher (MBRL) in shelling the targets during the operation.”
PRNigeria learnt that the acting General Officer Commanding of the Nigerian Army 7 Division, Brig General Abdulwahab Eyitayo visited some of the military formations and commended the troops for taking swift and decisive actions against the terrorists.