*We will defend Nigeria, protect citizens, Buratai pledges
Boko Haram insurgents are said to have been inflicted with heavy casualty, following defeat they suffered as a result of superior firepower of troops of Operation Lafia Dole.
The insurgents were said to have attacked Damasak that is the location of 145 Batallion of the Nigerian Army, on Wednesday at about 6p.m. but were left with no option than to withdraw at about 11p.m. due to their inability to withstand the following superior firepower of the troops.
NAN reports that as at Thursday the town, Damasak, remained calm after the troops had successfully overpowered them and retrieved the location from the terrorists.
The report giving account of what went on says in the last 24 hours, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai had been in the North-East monitoring ongoing operations.
He visited Damask on Tuesday and proceeded to Gudumbali, where the terrorists attacked troops locations on Friday.
Buratai vowed that the military will continue to defend the country and protect its people against attacks, whether external or internal.
He said such incident would not deter the military as it was common in counter insurgency and counter terrorism operations.
Already, the Army chief said the Operation Lafiya Dole, coordinating the counter insurgency operations in the North-East was being reorganised and reinvigorated to address identified challenges.
He said this was part of strategies being adopted to prevent recurrence of such attack
The insurgents, which attacked military locations around the town, were believed to belong to the faction led by Al Barnawi, which had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in West Africa or ISWA.
However, a Correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), who was on the motorcade of the Army chief, observed that contrary to media publication, the terrorists did not touch any structure in the town, except one troops’ location.
According to some residents of Gudumbali, who turned out in large numbers to welcome the Army chief, the terrorists stormed the town at about 4p.m. on Friday and began to extort money from market women and looted food items.
NAN also gathered that the troops immediately engaged the attackers, but beat a tactical withdrawal before regrouping to repell them.
Mrs Zainab Wakil, a resident, explained that they came at a time when the community market which holds on every Friday was still in session.
“They – terrorists did not attack us, but extort money from us and ordered us to stop trading. We left our wares and ran into the bush.
“We were in the bush until Saturday morning. We came out after we noticed that soldiers, who withdrew had came out to chase away the insurgents,” she said.
Wakil maintained that the Boko Haram terrorists did not attack or kill any of the villagers before they fled at about 1a. m. on Saturday.
Mr Kachala Aliyu, another resident of Gudumbali, also told newsmen that the insurgents did not kill anybody in the town.
Aliyu said that after extorting money and looted food stuff from the traders and disrupted trading in the market, they went straight to the troops’ location.
Unlike the faction led by Abubakar Shekau, the Al Barnawi faction of the Boko Haram group targets the military and its locations in its attacks, not civilians.
In the heat of the insurgency in 2014, the terrorists attacked troops in Gudumbali, where the army suffered heavy casualties, and razed the community. It was recaptured in 2015.
The Army had set up a cenotaph in the community, which was inaugurated by the Chief of Army staff in July, to immortalise officers and soldiers, who paid the supreme price in the fight to liberate Gudumbali.
Residents of the town, who were displaced since 2014 began to return to the farming community in June after the army launched: “Operation Last Hold” in May.
The exercise was designed to facilitate the return of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Borno North and Lake Chad Basin, to their ancestral homes.
Gudumbali is located at about over 250km of Northern Borno, but just 25km to Niger Republic.