The Nigerian Army on Friday said that an attack by insurgents on its base in Giwa, Borno State was an attempt to free detained Boko Haram members and that it was successfully repelled.
Reports earlier indicated that the insutgents laid seige to Maiduguri and bombarded the Giwa military Barracks but they were repelled, suffering a heavy human casualty.
At least 50 of the insurgents are believed to have been killed with many others injured or arrested.
Director, defence information, Chris Olukolade, a major-general said “pockets of terrorists” had attacked the military facility in an attempt to free their colleagues who are being held in detention at the Giwa Barracks, “to boost their depleted stock of fighters”.
According to Olukolade, many of the terrorists and their weapons were captured, even as hot pursuits by land and air operations are ongoing along with cordon and search of surrounding localities for fleeing members of the terrorist group, which many speculate to be Boko Haram.
He said that the army believes that the terrorists’ attempt was in response to the intensity of attacks on their camps at Talala, Sambisa forests, Gwoza, Mandara mountains as well as the general area of Lake Chad, where the “camps have been destroyed and many insurgents killed.”
The director of information said four soldiers were however wounded in the attack and are receiving treatment. He promised to give more details of the attack as soon as he is able.
Another security source said over 100 insurgents were killed in the attack, but residents who spoke said they only saw about 50 corpses.
Residents of Polo Area of the town, who spoke to journalists, said 30 corpses believed to be members of the outlawed Boko Haram were dumped in the area by the military at about 11 am.
It was also gathered that some of the fleeing insurgents ran into a private secondary school, Capital International School where they forced the students to give up their uniforms which they subsequently disguised in.
The insurgents could, however, not keep up the disguise for too long as they looked strange in the uniforms. They were subsequently caught and handed over to the military.
Meanwhile, the police command in the state has denied reports that the University of Maiduguri, UNIMAID campus, was also attacked during the operation.
The police commissioner, Lawal Tanko, explained that the insurgents only passed through a river channel behind the university to launch the attack on the barracks and that the institution itself was not attacked.
He said that the university campus was safe as both students and lecturers had been adequately protected.
“The story indicating that the university had been attacked is not true. It is true that there is an ongoing exchange of fire between security agents and some suspected insurgents, but the incident is limited to the barracks area alone,” he said.
Corroborating this position, the chief information officer of the university, Ahmed Mohammed, said “the university camp was not attacked; the attackers only used a narrow river side near the campus to carry out their nefarious act. Many people assumed that the university was affected because the hostilities took place near the campus.”
But one of the students who spoke anonymously claimed that seven bomb blasts occurred within the ivory tower leading to the destruction of one of the Education Trust Fund (ETF) buildings and injuries to some of the students.
Residents of the area said three deafening explosions were heard and sporadic shootings have been ongoing.
Even though the military say heavy human casualty was inflicted on the terrorist group, it is believed that many civilians would have been caught in the crossfire as well.
The state government has announced a 24-hour curfew on the troubled town following the attack.
Notice of the curfew was contained in a statement issued by the secretary to the state government, Baba Ahmed Jidda, who advised everyone to stay indoors to allow the military and security personnel do the task of bringing back normalcy.