June 13, 2019 / 10:46 PM / 6 months ago

Islamist insurgents overrun Nigerian army base in northeast - security sources

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (Reuters) - Islamist insurgents overran a Nigerian army base in the country’s northeast, killing at least the commander, two Nigerian security sources said on Thursday.

Militants on Wednesday took a Nigerian army base at the village of Kareto in northeastern Borno state, some 130 kilometres from state capital Maiduguri, the security sources said.

No other details about possible further casualties were available.

Nigerian army spokespeople did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The latest development is at odds with the Nigerian military’s public statements as recently as Monday that their campaigns against Boko Haram and Islamic State’s West African branch are making “major breakthroughs”, statements that frequently describe the insurgents as “remnants”.

It was not immediately clear whether the attackers were affiliated with Boko Haram or Islamic State.

The insurgents were said to have overrun troops from the Nigeria Army’s 158th Battalion stationed at Kareto, killing at least their commanding officer and causing the remaining soldiers to flee, one security source said.

After the assault, the militants left Kareto, but remained in the area, they said.

President Muhammadu Buhari in his second-term inaugural speech on Wednesday said Nigeria was meeting security challenges “with much greater support to the security forces in terms of money, equipment and improved local intelligence”.

Nigeria’s government has said the Boko Haram insurgency, and the rival Islamic State West Africa Province group, are on their last legs.

But sustained efforts to eradicate the militants have failed and the military continues to suffer heavy losses.

The insurgency has killed over 30,000 people and displaced millions of civilians in affected areas.

Reporting by Ola Lanre in Maiduguri; writing by Paul Carsten, editing by G Crosse

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