Not all soldiers at the military base in Marte, Borno State, Northeast Nigeria, have been accounted for following an attack by the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) on Friday, where it reportedly deployed over a dozen gun trucks.
The military base in New Marte is located in the abandoned Lake Chad basin quarters and close to the generators used for powering Marte canals.
HumAngle learned that the troops withdrew from the base after the insurgents overwhelmed them. The insurgents subsequently looted the facility.
While some soldiers have made contact from locations they escaped to, the status of other missing operatives is currently unknown.
Gun trucks and weaponry were destroyed as the military reclaimed the base on Saturday. Some civilians caught in the crossfire have since fled Marte towards the garrison town of Dikwa.
The attack on the military base happened a few days after insurgents targeted the same base in a smaller-scale attack, likely an attempt to probe the defence of the base.
HumAngle understands that New Marte was a safe location for troops and civilians because Old Marte is still a hot zone and out of bounds to civilians and security forces.
The insurgents were also sighted yesterday night in the area.
Over the past few days, ISWAP has targeted troops with bomb-laden vehicles and buried explosives in response to the new operation targeting one of their strongholds — Alagarno forest.
“Troops tried very hard and almost suppressed the offensive but the insurgents sent reinforcements. Troops could not withstand the superior firepower of the insurgents and had to abandon their positions,” a military source told Daily Trust.
According to the paper, most of the soldiers and officers sought refuge in Dikwa town.
“The Brigade Commander and the Commanding Officer of the battalion were among the troops that retreated to Dikwa where the General Officer Commanding, 7 Division, was supposed to meet with them on Saturday, the source stated,” it reported.
However, Brigadier General Bernard Onyeuko said in a statement released on Saturday that troops of Operation TURA TAKAIBANGO in conjunction with the Air Task Force Operation Lafiya Dole “have effectively destroyed 7 Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists’ gun trucks and decimated several unconfirmed numbers of the terrorists when they attempted to attack their location at the outskirts of Marte”.
He added: “The gallant troops, based on reliable information about the attack, had positioned themselves in an ambush site where they tactically withdrew to and awaited the arrival of the terrorists before they opened fire which led to the fierce battle that resulted in the successes recorded as indicated above.”
ISWAP had in June 2019 overrun the same base and destroyed military equipment.
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