GASHIGAR , Nigeria, Eighty-three Nigerian soldiers are missing six days after a battle with Boko Haram forces, military sources said.
The soldiers remain unaccounted for after the Islamist insurgents attacked their base at Gashigar in Nigeria’s Borno state. The Nigerian army confirmed the attack last week but has not offered updates nor mentioned the missing soldiers. The Nigerian newspaper Pulse, citing a story in the Premium Times, said top military sources confirmed the soldiers were missing.
The sources suggested the soldiers may have drowned in the Yobe River while fleeing the attack. About 22 soldiers were rescued from the river by Niger’s army and are recovering in a Diffa, Niger, hospital, they said, but others were shot and killed as they attempted to escape in the river. The sources added poor morale, brought on by unpaid salaries and only one meal per day, is affecting the Nigerian army as it seeks to control the insurgent group; they suggested commanding officers are skimming the daily pay and rations for their own benefit, a practice common during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan but allegedly changed by President Muhammudu Buhari.A renewed show of strength by Boko Haram comes after several months of the Nigerian army’s claims that it is winning the battle against the insurgents, and that combat operations will soon slow. The army announced Saturday that 21 people were arrested for livestock rustling, a common means in Borno state of funding Boko Haram.
By Ed Adamczyk