ABUJA: Nigeria’s military said today it had killed 150 insurgents, including a commander named Abba Goroma, in an operation against Islamist group Boko Haram in which 16 of its own forces were also killed.
Violence in northeast Nigeria has intensified over the past two months, as the Islamists fight back against a military operation that president Goodluck Jonathan ordered in May to try to crush their four-year rebellion.
Army spokesman Brigadier General Ibrahim Attahiru said a series of raids carried out on Islamist camps in northeastern Borno state had pushed Boko Haram into hiding in a forest.
He said they had received intelligence reports on Sept. 12 that they were planning to launch an attack from there, adding that they were “well fortified with anti-aircraft and anti-tank guns mounted on vehicles”.
“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,” he said.
Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is sinful”, wants to revive an era of medieval Islamic kingdoms in religiously mixed Nigeria by creating a breakaway state that would follow strict sharia law.
It is seen as the gravest security threat to Africa’s top oil producer. Although their activities are located hundreds of miles away from its southern oil fields, they have bombed the capital Abuja at least three times, including a deadly attack on the United Nations’ Nigeria headquarters in 2011.