President Muhammadu Buhari and Commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces has expressed “profound grief and sorrow’’ over the loss of 47 soldiers ambushed by Boko Haram terrorists in Gorgi Village, Borno State.
“Sacrifices of our gallant patriots cannot be quantified, and their sacrifices cannot go in vain,’’ Buhari said on Tuesday night.
The killing of 47 soldiers on Monday in one fell swoop, was one of the worst moments in recent times in the 11 year-old Boko Haram war, which goes on ferociously despite official line that the enemies have been technically defeated.
While the Nigerian Army has dispatched a team to assess the situation and report back to the government, Buhari rallied the remaining troops not to allow the tragedy affect their morale.
President Buhari said “despite the tragedies and incidents, we cannot allow anarchists and mass murderers to hold the country hostage.’’
He assured that his administration will continue to motivate and equip them adequately in order to cope with the complex challenges of unconventional warfare.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian military has tried to explain how the 47 Nigerian soldiers paid the supreme price on the Boko Haram frontline on Tuesday.
The Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, Maj.-Gen. John Enenche said the men died when the terrorists ambushed the troops, who were inside a truck providing logistics back up for the frontline troops.
He explained that the truck that also conveyed explosives was hit by terrorists’ fire leading to explosion that affected other trucks conveying fuel.
“As a result, the troops suffered some casualties in the attack leading to killing of 47 soldiers.”
According to him, if you clear a place and you don’t consolidate, there is a problem and so we needed to go with reinforcement of artillery of the land component.
“We also need to go with extra ammunition and supplies.
“The echelon that was behind was the supply echelon. It was carrying fuel and weapons. It was targeted and fired at. The truck was carrying the bomb and then there was explosion.
“The explosion in the real sense was what killed the majority of our troops including the pockets that came to attack.
“That transferred to the other trucks carrying the fuel which caught fire. As a result of that we recorded 47 deaths after the mopping up.
Enenche said despite the deaths, troops yet again recorded success against the remnants of Boko Haram terrorists by killing scores of them at Gorigi in the Allagarno Forest general area of Borno.
Enenche said that the troops of Operation Lafiya Dole achieved the feat when the land component came into contact with mounted terrorists during clearance operations along the forest axis on March 23.
He explained that air assets, including an Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) platform and fighter jets, were immediately deployed to provide close air support to the troops.
According to him, while the ISR platform provided situational awareness to the troops, the fighter jets engaged the terrorists, immobilising their gun trucks and neutralising an unspecified number of the terrorists.
“As you know, we are in a fluid conflict situation and our gallant troops are out there at the frontlines.
“Between 21 and 23 March, troops of Operation Lafiya Dole were on clearance and fighting patrol operation to Gorgi in Borno which successfully done.
“Some others who attempted to withdraw were also mopped up by the jets in follow-on attacks.
“During the air bombardment, none of the terrorists that came to attack escaped but we cannot ascertain the casualty figure of the terrorists now,” he said.
“The Defence Headquarters commiserate with the families of our fallen gallant heroes who paid the supreme price in the course of defending our fatherland.
“We assure Nigerians that the Armed forces and other security agencies in furtherance of the objective of restoring peace and security in the North East and other parts of the country will continue to sustain the offensive against the enemies of our nation,” he said