According to the latest report by PUNCH, no fewer than 350 people lost their lives on Friday in the bloody clash between Boko Haram insurgents and the Special Forces in Maimalari, Maiduguri, Borno State.
The attack was made on the 21 Armoured Brigade of the Nigerian Army.
It was gathered that the insurgents targeted the detention facility on the premises of the headquarters of the Brigade which happens to be the biggest in an attempt to free their detained hardened members.
The military authorities were prepared for the attack due to their an intelligence report recieved earlier.
Reports say the insurgents attempted to divert the attention of the military by attacking in military uniforms and vehicles painted in military colours.
The huge casualty figure was revealed amid fresh facts on why the insurgents were able to advance near the detention camp with ease. It was learnt that the insurgentsâ€™ advancement could not be immediately halted because the Shilka tank, a multipurpose self-propelled anti-aircraft artillery weapon positioned to secure the barracks, failed to fire.
An authoritative security source who pleaded anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on behalf of the Special Forces, told Saturday PUNCH that the Shilka tank refused to respond to signal. This situation, he said, prompted the Special Forces to fight hard to prevent what would have been a tragic outing.
It was learnt that the tank had earlier been well -positioned to secure the portion of the barracks where the insurgents had penetrated. The source said if the gun had responded to touch, the soldiers would have found it easier to repel the attack of the insurgents without any damage.
It was learnt that the soldiers abandoned the disappointing artillery tank and relied on other weapons to ward off the insurgentsâ€™ attack.
The source said that the military was already looking into the reason behind the disappointment of the crucial weapon.
It was learnt that security operatives who were investigating the Shilka tank failure were considering two possibilities-the age of the old artillery weapon and the possibility of sabotage.
Although the soldiers prevented the barracks from being burnt by the invading Boko Haram fighters, it was said that the insurgents burnt the MRS, (the traditional medical facility within the barracks) and the detention facility.
53 of the insurgents were killed in action at the barracks while 297 were killed in a joint operation by the Air Force and the ground forces engrossed in chasing the fleeing insurgents.
The source further said that four children of a soldier were among those killed.
Tijjani Bello says, â€œWe counted 207 dead bodies of Boko Haram members shot dead by the military in Jidari Polo area alone. The suspected Boko Haram members had attacked Giwa Barracks and freed some of the detainees but the military were able to go after them and killed them. As we speak, the dead bodies of the terrorists are still within our area unattended to.â€
He continues, â€œMany Boko Haram members were also killed apart from the ones killed in Jidari Polo. But we only fear that some innocent residents may be among those killed.â€
The source said that the insurgents were attempting to hide and to regroup in the plantation when they were stormed by security forces, which spotted them from a hilly location. â€œSeveral of them were also killed this afternoon in a plantation where they wanted to take cover; they were hiding there without knowing that security forces were watching them. All of them who were found in that location were killed and their arms and ammunition recovered.
A source said that about 60 bodies of dead insurgents were dumped at the gate of the Brigade barracks in Maimalari by 5.30 pm on Friday.
It was further learnt that the insurgents inflicted some gunshot wounds on some soldiers and barracks boys during the attacks. The injured were said to have been taken to a hospital as of the time of filing this report.
Investigation revealed that a third year student of Mass Communication was hit by a stray bullet at the University of Maiduguri.