ABUJA: Clashes between Nigerian armed forces and Islamists after a daring attack on the military in the country’s restive northeast left 53 insurgents and six troops dead, a spokesman announced on Saturday (Sunday in Manila).
The rebels attacked barracks and a police station in the town of Damboa, in Borno state, late on Friday while most of the troops were out on patrol in surrounding villages, drawing an army response, defense spokesman General Chris Olukolade said in a statement.
Five soldiers and a senior officer were killed while repelling the attack.
The area was cordoned off and searched, while the bodies of the fallen soldiers were recovered and taken to a military morgue. The wounded were treated at a military medical facility.
“Half of Damboa has been burned, including the police station. People are just fleeing the town,” said a resident reached by telephone who requested anonymity.
Others said the military had seized four armored carriers.
“The soldiers gave the Boko Haram fighters a good fight and took over the four APCs [armored personnel carriers]they came with,” said one.
“The soldiers also suffered casualties,” the resident said.
“Many homes were burnt in the attack. Many residents have fled the area. The police station was also burnt”, another resident said.
Witnesses estimated that the toll among civilians and the armed forces could be higher than that given by the army.