Abuja. At least seven soldiers and their commander have been killed in an ambush by Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria’s northeast, the epicentre of the group’s insurgency.
The Nigerian Army on September 21 confirmed the killing of Col Dahiru U Bako, the commander of 25 Task Force Brigade in Damboa in Borno State, where Nigeria Army’s Operation Lafiya Dole has been battling terrorists.
A statement released late on Monday by Mr Ado Isa, spokesman of Operation Lafiya Dole, said Bako led a patrol to clear Boko Haram terrorists from Sabon Gari-Wajiroko axis near Damboa when his team entered an ambush at about 10 am on September 20.
“Under his able leadership, the troops cleared the ambush, resulting in the killing of scores of terrorists and recovery of weapons and equipment.’’
According to the army, Bako was wounded in action and immediately evacuated by the Air Task Force Operation Lafiya Dole to the 7 Division Hospital at Maimalari Cantonment.
“The late senior officer was recuperating well after a successful operation at the hospital, in good spirits and also said his prayers in the early hours of this morning before his sad passing at the hospital.”
Mr Isa described Bako as "one of our gallant and finest war heroes" and said he was a professional senior officer who always led from the front and with patriotism.
The statement was silent on the fate of the soldiers who were with Bako during the ambush.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen Tukur Buratai sent a condolence message to the families of all those who were killed.
“We are most grateful for his contributions and sacrifices to the motherland,” he said of Bako, and prayed for the souls of all the fallen army officers and soldiers.
Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno said the sacrifices of the senior and other slain soldiers would not be in vain.
He said: “It was public knowledge that I liked Col Bako and so did many people. Bako was a true soldier who inspired his troops and led them to the frontlines with exceptional courage that was clearly out of pure patriotism.”
“He fought very hard and very well. He defeated many enemies of peace and protected many sons and daughters of Borno State to the extent that he gave his life defending the people.’’
He said the deaths were sad as they but only served to reinforce confidence in the strong will exhibited by “our gallant troops and volunteers, that defending our country comes ahead of everything’”.
The people of Borno, he said, would forever be grateful to the late Bako and everyone like him.
No fewer than 30,000 people have been killed in the insurgency in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states in northeast since 2009.
More than seven million people have been displaced and social infrastructure destroyed.
The fighters of Boko Haram and Islamic State in West Africa Province have, however, been pushed to the fringes of neighbouring Cameroon, Niger and Chad.