MAIDGURI, Nigeria (AP) — Boko Haram extremists killed at least 50 Nigerian soldiers in an ambush near Goneri village in northern Yobe state, according to military officials.
The attack, one of the deadliest against troops recently, came as the military tried to launch an offensive against the militants that began over the weekend, according to a military official with knowledge of the operation. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not permitted to speak to the press about the matter.
The troops were able to fight back and escape from the ambush on Saturday, he said. They were at a place called the Gorge and when they advanced they were attacked from the rear.
Boko Haram militants inflicted heavy casualties by firing on the vehicles with rocket-propelled grenades and guns, he said. Those who survived are being treated at hospitals in Damaturu and Maiduguri.
A senior army officer also confirmed the attack, saying he lost a friend and calling it a huge setback for Nigeria’s army.
The military did not respond immediately to requests for confirmation of the attack and death toll.
Boko Haram has killed tens of thousands in its 10-year insurgency in northern Nigeria.