No fewer than 20 soldiers have died in a clash between troops and Boko Haram members in Kafia Forest in Nganzai Local Government Area of Borno State.
The clash, which occurred between Friday and the early hours of Saturday, allegedly led to the death of one of the wanted leaders of the sect, Abba Goroma.
Two other commanders of the sect were allegedly arrested by the troops.
The alleged killing of Goroma and arrest of two commanders could not be independently confirmed as the Boko Haram leadership was yet to issue an official statement as at press time on the encounter.
A military source, who spoke in confidence with our correspondent, said the incident followed a raid of a Boko Haram camp by troops.
The source said: “The Boko Haram terrorists were known to be regrouping in large numbers in Kafia Forest. When we secured a report on the newly found camp, the troops stormed the place.
“The storming of the camp was complemented with air raid. Following heavy air assault, the terrorists were forced to relocate. But with sophisticated weapons, the terrorists started fighting troops as they were escaping.
“So, there were casualties on both sides. In the process of the raid, one of the wanted Boko Haram leaders, Abba Gurama, was reportedly killed.
“Two other commanders were arrested. We are still combing Kafia Forest to get at the insurgents who might still be hiding there. We will also use the opportunity to take stock of the casualty figures.”
Asked if the troops were actually ambushed, the source said: “From field report at our disposal, the soldiers were not ambushed. The raid was at the instance of the troops following intelligence report.”
The Defence Spokesman, Brig-Gen. Chris Olukolade, who spoke with our correspondent, said: “So far, the casualty figure of troops is less than 20. Many terrorists were also killed by troops.
“We are still combing the forest to ascertain if there were more deaths. You should expect more update.”
The defunct Joint Task Force in Borno had on November 23, 2012 placed a N10million ransom on Abba Goroma, who was feared killed in the clash at Kafia Forest.