Boko Haram fighters attack Nigeria military
16 October 2013, 08:33
Maiduguri - Nigeria's military said on Tuesday it repelled co-ordinated attacks by Boko Haram Islamists at the weekend, killing 40 insurgents, but few details were provided and the account could not be independently verified.
According to a military statement, Islamist fighters "of unknown strength attempted co-ordinated and simultaneous attacks" on Sunday in three remote towns in northeastern Borno state, Boko Haram's historic stronghold.
Troops "successfully repelled all the attacks killing 40 terrorists in the three locations," the towns of Bama, Gwoza and Pulka, said the statement from the army's 7 Division, based in the northeast.
Nigeria launched a major offensive in the northeast in mid-May aimed at crushing Boko Haram's four-year insurgency, which has left thousands dead.
Military officials have described the campaign as a success and have released details of operations that have purportedly killed hundreds of insurgents, including several top Boko Haram commanders.
But Islamist attacks have continued, with scores of defenceless civilians, including more than 100 students, massacred since July.
After the most recent student massacre on 29 September in northeastern Yobe state, Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan called for a review of the military campaign and ordered new strategies be developed to curb the violence.
The mobile phone network has been switched off in much of the northeast since the operation began, a tactic the military said would block Boko Haram from co-ordinating attacks.
But with witnesses and local officials largely unreachable, the military's accounts of clashes have been difficult to verify.
Boko Haram has said it is fighting to create an Islamic state in Nigeria's mainly Muslim north.
The southern half of the country, Africa's most populous and top oil producer, is mostly Christian.