The Joint Task Force, JTF, in Borno has claimed that only six civilians were killed over the weekend during a gun battle it had with insurgents in Baga community of Borno State.
The JTF said residents’ claims that 185 people were killed during the attack were false.
The Commander of the Task Force, Brigadier General Austin Edokpaye, said in a three-paragraph statement he sent to journalists in Maiduguri, that Baga residents lied when they told the Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, that over 2000 houses were burnt down after the attack. He insisted that only some few 30 thatch houses got burnt.
Mr. Edokpaye said his troops killed 30 Boko Haram gunmen, while five (5) others were arrested. He said a soldier died and five others sustained injuries.
He said “contrary to media speculation that hundreds of houses were burnt, instead, it was the explosion from Boko Haram Terrorists’ Rocket Propelled Grenade Bombs, Anti Aircraft Guns and sophisticated IED materials that triggered fire to about 30 thatch houses in the predominantly fishing community.”
He said a cache of arms, including three Rocket Propelled Grenade Launchers; two Rocket Propelled Grenades Bombs; four AK 47 Rifles; 435 assorted ammunitions; seven quantities of IED material; and three land cruiser vehicles.
Mr. Edokpaye’s statement not only contradicts that by the residents of Baga, the Red Cross and the Borno State Government, it also contradicts that by military authorities in Abuja.
While residents of the town aid they buried 185 corpses, members of the community after the clash, the Red Cross later said the victims increased to 187.
The Borno State Government on Tuesday said ‘over 100 people’ were killed but said it could not ascertain the actual figure until its investigations are completed.
On Monday evening, the Defence Headquarters in Abuja declined to comment on the civilian casualty. The spokesperson for the Headquarters, Brigadier General Chris Kolade, however, said 25 Boko Haram suspects were killed in clash contrary to Mr. Edokpaye’s claim of 30.