Nigerian troops have repelled an attack on a military base by Boko Haram jihadists in the country’s northeast, the army and security sources said on Thursday.
The attack, in the town of Gashigar, in the Mobbar district of Borno state, is believed to have been carried out by a Boko Haram faction backed by the Islamic State group.
It was the latest in a series of strikes against military bases that have raised questions about the group’s strength, despite repeated official claims they were on the verge of defeat.
The Nigerian army confirmed the attack in a post on its Twitter account late on Wednesday.
“BHT (Boko Haram terrorists) met their Waterloo this evening when they attempted to infiltrate 145 (Battalion) location at Gashigar,” it said.
“They were completely routed by the troops and they fled in disarray due to superior firepower by the gallant troops of 145 Bn.”
There were no indications of casualties on either side.
A senior military source in the Borno state capital, Maiduguri, told AFP the jihadists arrived on nine pick-up trucks mounted with anti-aircraft guns and tried to get into the base.
“Troops engaged them in a fierce battle and prevented them from getting into the base,” he said, adding that the jihadists withdrew after air support was called in.
The attack follows a pattern that has seen at least nine military bases attacked since July, mostly in the northern part of Borno state, near the shores of Lake Chad.
The military has strongly denied reports of heavy troop casualties.
More than 27,000 people are thought to have been killed in the nine-year Islamist insurgency that has triggered a humanitarian crisis and left 1.8 million people still without homes.
In a separate incident on Wednesday, jihadists ambushed a civilian convoy under military escort heading to the town of Dikwa, 90 kilometres (55 miles) from Maiduguri.
The convoy came under fire near Kaltaram village, 15 kilometres from Dikwa, at about 1:00 pm (1200 GMT), resulting in a shootout with the military escorts before the militants withdrew.
“Eight people were injured the ambush, one of them seriously, but there were no deaths,” said civilian militia member Umar Ari.