As many as 18 soldiers had lost their lives on Sunday evening after gunmen believed to be Boko Haram attacked a military base in Mainok village of Borno state, officials sources said.
Corpses of an army officer and 17 soldiers were evacuated on Monday, hours after the attackers had left with critical war weapons that were recently supplied to the military base.
The Nigerian military had Monday confirmed the attack but said only “one officer and six soldiers” were killed.
The military had earlier said they had repelled the attack, a claim that turned out to be false.
The Nigeria military usually put out a public statement to underplay such attacks. A tactics, used to avoid dulling troop’s morale.
An inside security source in Borno state who is familiar with the Sunday attack said “a Lieutenant Colonel and 17 other troopers died while 43 others were left with clinical injuries”.
“As I am talking to you, about 50 other personnel are still unaccounted for as of yesterday, Monday.”
The source said one of the causes of death casualty was the Nigeria air force jet that was scrambled to give air support to the attacked ground troops.
“Sadly the jet fighter mistook fired a bomb at an advancing reinforcement troop coming from the direction of Benishek thinking they were the Boko Haram fighters heading to attack the 156 Task Force Battalion in Mainok town,” the source said.
The Humanitarian Times’ reporter viewed a viral video sent out by one of the soldiers who survived the Sunday attack where they were seen lamenting that an air force jet had bombed a truck filled with soldiers and killed everyone.
The soldier in the selfied video said the soldiers in the shelled gun truck did not heed his warning that they should remain on the highway.
Mainok is 55km west of Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, and about 18km to Benishek, the headquarters of the Kaga local government from where the bombed reinforcement troop took off from.
Survivor soldiers shared gory photos of their colleagues that died, showing some with Matchette cuts.
The source said the Boko Haram attackers used cutlasses to kill some of the soldiers that were found reeling in pains after being hit by bullet injuries.
Another source, said while some of them engaged the overwhelmed soldiers, a group of the attackers headed straight to the armoury at 156 task force battalion and began to evacuate “high calibre weapons” that arrived there on Friday from the Nigeria Army headquarters in Abuja.
“From the way the Boko Haram gunmen operated at Mainok on Sunday, it is suspected that there has been some form of sabotage from within the Nigerian military.,” the source, a senior army personnel told our reporter in an off-the-record interview.
“The weapons that were carter away arrived Mainok on Friday, and in less than 48 hours the insurgents mobilised and came for them.”
Governor of Borno state, Babagana Zulum had on Tuesday confirmed the attack on the troops based in Mainok.
Mr Zulum who sent his condolences to the families of the killed soldiers said “regardless of what happened in Mainok and how it happened as we collectively review the incident, we must first, and importantly, recognize that those soldiers who lost their lives at the weekend were fellow Nigerians; they were parents of children who are now orphans, husbands to wives who are now widows, and loved ones to families and friends now bereaved.”
“We mourn these heroic soldiers and anyone caught at the unfortunate setback in Mainok.”
The Governor said the setback in Mainok “will not deter the state government from its continued collaborative efforts towards ending the insurgency”.
Governor Zulum had however said that “all stakeholders at the highest levels, to continually approach equipping and supporting front line troops with the fear of God, bearing in mind that everyone will one day account for his or her doing or misdoing”.