MILITANTS ambushed a convoy carrying the head of the Nigerian army on Saturday. Ten of the attackers and one soldier died in the ensuing firefight in Faljari village east of Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state in the north east, the army said in a statement on Sunday.
Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant-General Tukur Yusuf Buratai was unharmed. “The terrorists encountered overwhelming firepower from the troops,” army spokesman Sani Usman said in the statement. Buratai was appointed army chief only in July.
The soldiers captured five militants, he said. Borno is the heartland of Boko Haram’s six-year campaign to impose its version of Shariah, or Islamic law, on Africa’s biggest economy and most populous country of 170 million.
The group has killed more than 13,000 people in bomb and gun attacks, mainly in the northeastern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, according to the government.
Boko Haram has stepped up attacks since losing territory earlier this year following a regional offensive by forces from Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Chad.
President Muhammadu Buhari has repeatedly vowed to crush the insurgency since coming to power in May. Saturday’s ambush came barely 24 hours after two soldiers were killed by land mines near the town of Dikwa, also in Borno.
Two others were critically injured in the explosion and are being treated at a military hospital, the army said in a separate statement on Friday..