The Nigerian Army has disclosed that a total of 23 soldiers were killed in the devastating attack on a military base in Borno State 11 days ago.
Terrorists belonging to Boko Haram faction, the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), overran the 157 Task Force Battalion in Metele village in Guzamala local government area of Bornoduring an attack on November 18. Even though many reports indicated that over 100 soldiers were killed in the attack with many others missing, the Army dismissed the casualty figures earlier this week without releasing the official figures.
However, in a statement signed by Brigadier General Sani Usman on Wednesday, November 28, it was disclosed that 23 soldiers were killed while 31 were injured.
"During the attack, the troops were forced to withdraw and several casualties were recorded. As at date 23 personnel were killed in action and 31 personnel were wounded in action and have been evacuated to several medical hospitals within Borno State," the statement read.
The battalion was identified as one of the Nigerian troops under the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), a combined multinational formation from Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria that is charged with bringing an end to Boko Haram's insurgency that started in 2009.
While promising to provide all necessary support to the MNJTF to reverse Boko Haram's 'resurgence', the Nigerian Army also commiserated with the families of the deceased soldiers.
"The Nigerian Army wishes to further commiserate with the families of the gallant officers and soldiers that paid the supreme price in the course of defending their fatherland.
"The sacrifices of these fallen heroes will not be in vain. We also wish all those wounded in action speedy recovery and assure them of our continued support and care," Usman said.
Eliminate Boko Haram 'from face of the earth'
President Muhammadu Buhari was in Maiduguri, Borno on Wednesday to declare open the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Annual Conference as the guest of honour.
While delivering his speech, the president charged the military's leadership to ensure that their plans and programmes meet the nation's security challenges. He also urged the Army to remain committed to defeating Boko Haram.
"I want to encourage our troops not to be distracted by whatever speculations but remain focused and committed to the task of eliminating Boko Haram from the face of the earth," he said.
He said security remains one of the cardinal objectives of his administration and promised that no effort will be spared to support troops, including reviewing their welfare package.
"I want to assure you that, as your commander in chief, I will do everything within my powers to continue empowering you by providing all the necessary equipment for you to prevail on the field.
"I also want you to be aware that I'm currently looking into measures to improve your entitlements and welfare generally," he said.
The president also visited the injured soldiers who survived the Metele attack. This was after addressing soldiers at the battlefields to further boost their morale in the fight against Boko Haram whose activities have devastated the northeast region for the past nine years.