Boko Haram fighters have killed seven Nigerian soldiers and wounded 19 more in an ambush on a road in the northeastern state of Borno, the military said on Friday. The attack and continued suicide bombings throughout the northeast raise doubts about how close the conflict with the Islamist group is to a conclusion, despite the military reclaiming most territory held by Boko Haram.
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The ambush on the Ajiri-Dikwa road hit the troops as they were on a routine rotation on Thursday night, the military said in a statement.
“Seven soldiers paid the supreme price in the incident while 19 soldiers sustained various degrees of injuries,” the statement said. Troops were in “aggressive pursuit” of the fleeing Boko Haram fighters, it said.
The statement said “many” Boko Haram fighters had been killed, without giving a number. In December, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said the capture of a key camp marked the “final crushing of Boko Haram terrorists in their last enclave in Sambisa forest” which was once the group’s stronghold.
But since then attacks have stepped up, with no sign of halting. The Boko Haram insurgency has killed more than 15,000 people since 2009 and forced some two million from their homes. The group split last year, with one faction led by Abubakar Shekau from the Sambisa forest and the other allied to Islamic State and led by Abu Musab al-Barnawi, based in the Lake Chad region.