Nigeria’s military on Wednesday said that soldiers had repelled a new Boko Haram attack after a two-hour gun battle in the restive
country’s defence headquarters said in a series of tweets that the
militants had been pushed back from Biu, in Borno State, and two
anti-aircraft guns had been captured.
“Troops in pursuit of
fleeing terrorists as mopping up operation is ongoing. Five terrorists
have so far been captured,” it said.
Residents in town, about 200
kilometres (125 miles) southwest of the state capital, Maiduguri, told
AFP scores of militant fighters stormed the town in 10 pick-up trucks at
about 7:30 am (0630 GMT).
But they were intercepted by soldiers from a nearby barracks, leading to a two-hour gunfight.
opened fire on three pick-up vans carrying the gunmen that came as an
advance party while the rest remained at a fuel station in Kigir
village,” said resident Babagana Haruna.
“There were 10 gunmen in
each vehicle and all of them were killed in the rain of bullets from the
soldiers,” he claimed, although there was no independent verification
of the death toll.
The Islamists’ apparent target was the town’s military base, residents said.
The remaining insurgents then arrived at the scene in vans and motorcycles and 10 more were killed, said resident Awwalu Yusuf.
vigilantes and soldiers pursued the militants into the bush and youths
armed with makeshift weapons set up barricades across the town to
prevent them from returning.
Biu is a religiously mixed town and
the largest in southern Borno. It has been largely spared Boko Haram
attacks on nearby villages in the past two years.
Boko Haram on
January 3 carried out what is feared to be the worst atrocity in the
six-year insurgency, when they attacked the town of Baga in the far
north of Borno.
The military claimed this week that 150 people
were killed but eye-witnesses and local officials report that hundreds,
if not more, lost their lives.
Both claims are impossible to verify, with Boko Haram reportedly still in control of the town.