Boko Haram gunmen attacked a Nigerian military base and adjacent police barracks in the northeastern town of Buni Yadi on Tuesday, killing at least 25 security personnel, security sources and witness said.
The attack occurred not far from where the Islamist insurgents shot or burned to death 59 pupils at a boarding school in February.
A witness and resident of Buni Yadi, who identified himself only as Mustafa for fear of retribution, said the militants arrived in an armoured personnel carrier and six Toyota Hilux pickup trucks before dismounting and firing into the air.
They fired rocket propelled grenades at both bases.
The witness and two security sources, one in Yobe state and another at the army’s northeast headquarters in Maiduguri, said at least 11 soldiers and 14 police officers were killed. The security source in Yobe state said 17 soldiers may have actually died.
US questions Nigeria’s claims over location of missing girls
Boko Haram, whose violent struggle for an Islamic state in northern Nigeria has killed thousands and made them the biggest threat to security in Africa's top oil-producing state, are still holding more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped on April 14, an act which provoked a storm of international outrage.
On Monday, Nigeria’s top military officer said authorities had found the location of the missing girls, but that their whereabouts could not be disclosed.
“The good news for the girls is that we know where they are, but we cannot tell you," said Air Chief Marshal Badeh, adding that the army has ruled out any use of force to try to rescue the girls.
However, the United States said on Tuesday it did not have independent information to confirm Nigeria’s claim of knowing the whereabouts of the kidnapped girls and questioned the wisdom of making public such information.
“We don’t have independent information from the United States to support these reports you referenced,” US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said when asked about Badeh’s statement.
“We, as a matter of policy and for the girls’ safety and wellbeing, would not discuss publicly this sort of information, regardless.”
Cameroon deploys troops to border
Meanwhile, Cameroon said Tuesday it had deployed troops to patrol its border region with Nigeria in response to the growing threat from Boko Haram.
Lieutenant Colonel Didier Badjeck said about 1,000 Special Forces of Cameroon’s rapid intervention brigade (BIR) left the capital Yaoundé on Monday for the country’s northern border. Several armoured vehicles were deployed three days earlier, he said.
“Their mission will be to carry out reconnaissance and be ready to respond with enough fire power,” Badjeck told Reuters by telephone. “They are patrolling in northern region at the moment.”
Boko Haram has also carried out several attacks and kidnappings in northern Cameroon.
The group is suspected of attacking a Chinese workers camp in the region earlier this month, with ten Chinese workers still missing.
Badjeck said the deployment was part of Cameroon’s effort to increase its military presence in the border region. It had already deployed an additional 700 troops under a joint regional effort to fight Boko Haram, announced in March.
Nigeria has complained in the past that Cameroon was not doing enough to secure its Far North region which it said is being used by Boko Haram militants to shelter from a Nigerian military offensive and to transport weapons.
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)
Date created : 2014-05-27