The Defence Headquarters has confirmed that the battle between the Joint Task Force (JTF) and Boko Haram Islamic sect members at Baga border town of Borno State on Sunday left 25 insurgents and one soldier dead, even as the US commended Nigeria for maintaining security in the sub-region.
The director of defence information, Brig-Gen. Chris Olukolade, made this disclosure while speaking with defence correspondents in his office yesterday but said the number of civilian casualties had not yet been verified.
According to him, the fight erupted when soldiers responded to desperate calls from the residents of Baga town who were under Boko Haram siege.
He disclosed that the only soldier killed was actually the first to respond to the desperate call when the Boko Haram opened fire on them.
He said, “We do not want to give you a wrong figure as the total number of civilian casualties has not been ascertained. However, the information we have here is that there was an attack by the Boko Haram insurgents and JTF responded to desperate calls. Twenty-five insurgents were killed and we lost a soldier who was actually responding to the desperate calls.”
The defence spokesman faulted the earlier report that at least 185 persons including women and children had been killed and over 200 houses razed down.
Meanwhile, the United States has commended Nigeria on its strategic role in fighting insurgency in the country and ensuring stability in the West African sub-region.
This was the highlight of the discussion yesterday when the US Congressional House Armed Service Committee in the company of their ambassador to Nigeria, Clarence McCulley, visited the Defence Headquarters, Abuja, to meet with chief of defence staff (CDS) Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim, the service chiefs and other top officials of the federal government.
There have conflicting figures about the casualty figure on the number of number of houses destroyed as some opposition online blogs are saying that the Border town, lost over 2,000 houses.
There is also a reported figure of 187 deaths from Red Cross, who has no presence in Borno state, creating doubts on where they must have collected their data.