37 Not 185 Died In Baga Clash, We Were Never Unprofessional – Army
Contrary to reports that 185 people died as a result of last weekend’s clash between the operatives of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MJTF) and members of the radical sect, Boko Haram in Baga town of Borno State, the military says not more than 37 were killed in that incidence.
A statement issued on Tuesday and also made available by the commander of the MJTF, Brig. Gen. Austin Edokpaye to newsmen in Maiduguri gave the breakdown of the casualties as 30 members of the Boko Haram insurgents, six civilians caught up in the crossfire and one soldier.
He also disclosed that five of the insurgents who attacked his men during the deadly clash have been arrested and are awaiting interrogation.
The statement claimed that the soldiers exercised restraint for so long under intense provocation from the sect as the two-day clash was highly provoked by the insurgents.
The Commander said one of such provocations was the beheading of one of his soldiers in the town by the terrorists who took cover in the community after the dastardly act.
He also maintained that at another time soldiers were ambushed by the insurgents and that a soldier was killed and the terrorists were shielded by the members of the community.
Edokpaye further disclosed that “even though the terrorists have always come to Baga to tax the people of the town, no formal complaint have been brought to us; even as the residents of the town continue to shield the sect members.”
The commander said that the military had intelligence report of the weekend attack on soldiers and when the people of the town were approached for assistance it never came.
The commander said: “The terrorists have been taxing the people for so long and we have had information that they were prepared to attack us which we confronted the people with but they denied.”
The statement claimed that the conflagration of the weekend was never the making of the military, but was due to the weapons deployed by the Boko Haram insurgents that torched 30 thatched houses in the predominantly fishing community of Baga town.”
“The military was at no time unprofessional in its task in the area of protecting lives and property in the North-East sub-region of the country.”
He then debunked media reports that hundreds of houses were burnt as well as hundreds of lives taken during the clash.
The Commander disclosed that items recovered include from the sect members included three rocket propelled grenade launchers, two rocket propelled grenade bombs, four Kalashnikov rifles, 435 ammunitions, several quantities of IED materials; and three damaged Land Cruiser vehicles belonging to the terrorists.