By Musdapha Ilo
At least 142 corpses have been evacuated from the Maiduguri/Damaturu highway and its surrounding bushes after an ambush laid by some Boko Haram members on Tuesday, an official of the Borno State Environmental Protection Agency, BOSEPA, has said.
Saidu Yakubu, the agency’s spokesman told journalists in the presence of the State Governor, Kashim Shettima, that on Thursday alone 87 corpses were evacuated from the road and bushes even as the evacuation continued.
Three swollen corpses were seen lying on the highway just as two compactor waste evacuation trucks fully loaded with corpses stood by as at this afternoon during a visit to the area.
Initial reports said at least 40 soldiers were killed and 65 others went missing in the attack. The military have since denied this, while failing to state the number of their men who were killed or missing.
A detachment of soldiers under the 134 Battalion of the 12 Brigade under the Multi National Joint Task Force, MNJTF, stationed in Kangarwa village in Kukawa local government, had conducted a reconnaissance to gather intelligence around the area, during which they established the presence of previously unnoticed Boko Haram camps.
The soldiers returned to their base and filed a report recommending aerial bombardment of the area, preparatory for a ground operation by troops, our sources who declined to be named for security concerns said.
But that plan was cancelled at the final minutes by an unnamed top official without formal communication to the more than 100 troops that had already advanced on the area as a result of the communication ban imposed on the state.
The soldiers were allegedly trapped in the ambush under heavy fire from the militants who had surrounded the area, leaving at least 40 soldiers killed.
The insurgents further moved to confiscate a huge cache of weapons from the soldiers after the attack which makes history as one of the most fatal for the Nigerian army since the state of emergency declaration.
Army authorities have already ordered investigation into the matter.