The Army yesterday confirmed that it had killed a top Boko Haram commander, Abba Boroma, on whose head it had earlier placed a bounty of N10m.
Intelligence sources said Boroma was responsible for series of attacks on military and police formations.
He is also linked to the killings of students in the North-East zone.
In an offensive on the Kafiyar Forests in Borno that lasted for several hours, soldiers of the 81 Battalion reportedly killed 149 members of the sect.
It was learnt last night that the Army, however, lost a lieutenant and 15 soldiers while nine are still missing.
The fierce fighting took place last Thursday and the Army High Command has reportedly launched an investigation into the incident while working assiduously to rescue the missing soldiers.
While it conceded that the camp was well-fortified, the army said its troops were able to level it after hours of fierce exchange of gunfire.
“The fact is that on September 12, troops of 81 Battalion under the 7 Division of the Nigerian Army carried out a deliberate attack on the insurgents located at Kafiyar Forests.
The camp was well fortified and the attack lasted for several hours.
“However, the camp was brought down and over 150 insurgents were killed. The enemy camp was cleared. We lost a lieutenant and 15 soldiers. Nine are still missing in action.
“Abba Boroma, a highvalue target with a bounty of N10m placed on him was also killed,” said Ibrahim Attahiru, a Brig.-Gen. and spokesman of the Nigerian Army.
Attahiru faulted reports that the Army did not do its homework well, saying in all war situations, casualties are often expected on both sides. He said the Army remained on top of its game and was bent on restoring the state and the North- East zone to normalcy.
Meanwhile, 48 hours after a vigilance youth was killed by a policeman in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, members of the state’s Vigilance Youth Group, BVYG, have arrested 19 Boko Haram suspects in five villages of Konduga Local Government Area of the state.
The arrests, according to a vigilance youth, Ibrahim Yakub, were made after a three-day “search and hunt” exercise of fleeing Boko Haram members in Konduga town and other neighbouring villages at the weekend.
Konduga is 40 kilometres east of Maiduguri, where at least 55 people were killed in August, including eight policemen and soldiers by the insurgents at a place of worship.
Speaking yesterday in Maiduguri on the arrests, one of the vigilance youths, AbubakarGoni Adam, said the 19 suspects were pursued to the villages of Konduga and other communities bordering the Sambisa Games Reserves Forest.
“The fleeing Boko Haram sect members had been hiding in the forests, but with the destruction of their training camps and hideouts by the Special Operational Forces of Nigerian Army in June, the sect members fled to towns and villages bordering the forests.
“Our members had to intervene and act in tracking down these people that attacked and killed people in the affected areas.
“With the assistance of soldiers and the police, we were able to arrest 19 suspects along with some rifles and ammunition in Konduga and other communities bordering the forests at the weekend.”
Our correspondent also learnt that the arrested suspects were tied with their hands at the back, before they were taken to Maiduguri and handed over to soldiers of 7 Division of Nigerian Army at the NEPA office.
Borno State Police Commissioner, Lawal- Tanko, also confirmed the arrest of the suspects by the vigilance youths yesterday. He said some rifles and ammunition were recovered from the fleeing Boko Haram members.
Tanko said: “Our attention is now concentrated on the patrol of these towns and villages on market days as the gunmen take advantage of market days to launch attacks on innocent people.”