The anti-insurgency military operations in the North-east have suffered a setback with the attacks on troops in Borno and Yobe States in which a total of two officers and 26 soldiers were killed.
An army commander, of the rank of Colonel and 20 soldiers were reportedly killed in an ambush by Boko Haram, in Yobe State while another Colonel and six others, including a Captain, died in Borno State.
The attacks came amidst heightened worries over the security situation in the country, which has triggered a national conversation on the urgent need for the federal government to stem the tide.
As part of concerted efforts to find solution to the insecurity in the country, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, visited President Muhammadu Buhari and urged him to beef up security in the South-west, where he claimed strangers have taken over the forests in the region to unleash violence on the people.
Also yesterday, the Senate, again, was worried about the security situation in the country, saying it is creating a humanitarian crisis in Northern Nigeria.
The death toll in the latest attacks in Borno and Yobe states, brings to 52, the number of soldiers killed within two months by the combined forces of the Islamic State for West Africa Province (ISWAP) and Boko Haram in the North-east.
In the Yobe attack, the troops were ambushed on Wednesday while on their way to the headquarters of 29 Task Force Brigade of the Nigerian Army located in Benisheik, as they returned from Borogozo in the state.
Military sources in the theatre of war, said the brigade commander, a colonel and 20 soldiers, were killed when they ran into an ambush.
Sector 2 Command of Operation Lafiya Dole has sent reinforcement to the area while bodies of the soldiers were moved to the 7 Division Headquarters in Maiduguri.
Army spokesman, Col Sagir Musa, said on phone that the army would issue a statement on the attack but had not done so as at the time of filling this report.
In the Borno attack, the Army Colonel, a captain and his four escorts, as well as driver, were killed by rampaging Boko Haram insurgents between Mainok and Jakana on the Damaturu/Maiduguri highway.
Sources said the Colonel and his convoy ran into some fleeing insurgents after a heavy gunfire exchange with soldiers at Jakana in an attack that lasted for hours.
A military source, who spoke to THISDAY on condition of anonymity, denied insinuations that it was an ambush.
He said: “The Colonel with his escort was just unlucky to run into the insurgents on his way from Maiduguri to Damaturu without the knowledge of the ongoing attack on the highway.”
The source confirmed that the Colonel was from 29 Task Force Brigade of Sector II of Operation Lafiya Dole.
However, he said the insurgents were dealt a heavy blow as one of their gun trucks was burnt and several of them killed.
Another source said two civilians were killed in the Jakana attack from stray bullets.
He said the insurgents did not attack civilian population.
Meanwhile travellers have continued to experience hardship on the Maiduguri-Damaturu highway as soldiers mostly closed the use of the highway at any time they want.
Reacting to the attack, spokesman of the Nigeria Army Sector II, Lt. Njoka Irabor, said: “The information available to me is still sketchy. I honestly don’t have any details now but I will get back to you as soon as possible.”
In recent attacks on troops engaged in the war against Boko Haram in the North-east, 28 soldiers, including a commander, were killed in two separate attacks in June in Gajiram Ngazai Local Government Area of Borno State while 18 soldiers and six others were wounded when insurgents sacked a military base in Kareto, North-eastern part of the state.
Four different brands of armoured personnel carriers and other military hardware were reportedly carted away by the insurgents who overran the military bases.