The Nigerian army has told reporters in the capital, Abuja on late Wednesday that it had killed 150 militants of the fearful Boko Haram group.
Boko Haram militants were said to have engaged the army in a fierce long gun battle in the north-eastern state of Borno which resulted in this massive casualties on the part of the militants.
The army also said 16 soldiers died and nine more are missing but local reporters dispute the casualties on the part of the army saying the army often plays down its own casualty figures. Local reporters say 100 military men were killed in the battle.
Local reporters also say Violence in northeast of the country has intensified over the past two months, as the militants fight back against the military operation that is backed by president Goodluck Jonathan.
President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in 3 northern states on May 14, and deployed thousands of troops to halt the insurgency, acknowledging that militants had taken control of some towns and villages in the north.
Army spokesman, Brigadier General Ibrahim Attahiru said a series of raids carried out on Boko Haram camps in northeastern Borno state had pushed Boko Haram into hiding in a forest.
He said the army had received intelligence reports on September 12 that Boko Haram planned to launch an attack from the forest on the army and civilians.
“Based on this report, our own troops launched a deliberate attack. Over 150 insurgents were killed and the formation lost an officer and 15 soldiers, they well fortified with anti-aircraft and anti-tank guns mounted on vehicles’’, he said.
Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau was killed by the military last month and the military say the new commander, Abba Goroma, was among those killed. He was among 19 Boko Haram members who the army offered a total of 290 million naira ($1.8 million) for in late 2012 for information leading to their capture. He had a bounty of $62,000.
Brig Attahiru also said that President Jonathan had ordered the deployment of extra troops to the central state of Nasarawa, east of the capital Abuja, following ethnic clashes which have left a reported 50 people dead in recent days.
Boko Haram is believed to have carried out a wave of bombings and assassinations since 2009 which have cost an estimate number of 4,000 lives, and saying it wants to establish an Islamic state across Nigeria.
Issaka Adams / NationalTurk Africa News