Forty-eight soldiers were killed in a Boko Haram attack in remote northeast Nigeria, military sources said on Monday, in the latest strike that raises questions about the group’s apparent resurgence and troops’ ability to fight back.
Scores of jihadist fighters in trucks stormed the base on Thursday in Zari village in northern Borno state and briefly seized it after a fierce battle.
Boko Haram, which has been waging a deadly insurgency in northeast Nigeria since 2009, has intensified attacks on “hard” military targets in recent months, undermining repeated claims by the military that they have the upper hand.
Troops have even protested that they are stretched to breaking point by constant security duties and the attacks that analysts tracking the conflict say have become more sophisticated and planned.
At least 30 Nigerian soldiers were initially said to have been killed in Thursday’s raid, which was claimed by a Boko Haram faction backed by the Islamic State group.
“The casualty toll now stands at 48 with the recovery of 17 more bodies of soldiers in surrounding bushes in Zari by search and rescue teams,” a military source who did not want to be named told AFP.
“Search operations are still ongoing and more bodies are likely to be recovered.”
Another military source confirmed the new death toll.
“So far (the) bodies of 48 troops have been recovered. Yesterday rescue teams found 17 bodies of fallen soldiers,” he said, adding that they included two officers and 46 soldiers.
“When the troops were overwhelmed by the terrorists they withdrew in different directions.”