Nigeria’s military have said that it killed 24 members of the Boko Haram in a gun fight in the remote northeast town of Maiduguri.
The embattled northeastern city was in lock-down on Tuesday following a spate of blasts and persistent gunfire in a neighbourhood seen as a stronghold of ultra-conservative fighters, residents said.
“Twenty-four Boko Haram members have been killed by security operatives of the Joint Task Force (JTF) in Gwange, Zannari and London Ciki wards of Maiduguri on Monday night,” spokesman of the JTF Sagir Musa said in a press release.
Musa said one soldier was wounded and no civilians were injured. Nigeria’s military, especially in remote areas like
Maiduguri, often plays down its own casualties and those of members of the public, and exaggerates its successes.
A worker at Borno State Specialist Hospital told The Associated Press news agency on Tuesday that soldiers dropped off 24 bodies there following the attack Monday.
The worker said the military identified the dead as Boko Haram members and that many of the corpses were dressed in the long robes favoured by the group.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said last week that both Boko Haram and Nigerian security forces may have committed crimes against humanity during their conflict. The heavy-handed tactics of the army help feed support for Boko Haram, security experts say.
Boko Haram wants to carve an Islamic state out of Nigeria and is considered the top security threat to Africa’s leading oil producer.
At least 2,800 people have died in fighting since the insurrection began, HRW said.
A recent crackdown by the military has brought a lull in the more coordinated and deadly attacks seen early this year.
The majority of Boko Haram related violence remains focused in the dusty and poverty-stricken northeast, where Africa’s most populous nation borders Niger and Chad.