The Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) ambushed Nigerian soldiers on Tuesday at Bulabulin in Damboa Local government Area, Borno state.
Twenty-three soldiers were killed and two injured in the ambush, according to multiple accounts.
A similar incident happened on June 27 when soldiers and the Civilian Joint Task Force members escorting commuter vehicles were ambushed in the area and soldiers killed, including Lieutenant Sino Malgwi.
However, the Defence Headquarters, in a statement signed by Maj.-Gen. l John Enenche, the Coordinator of Defence Media Operations, said “two soldiers paid the supreme price” during the attack.
“The troops of 25 Task Force Brigade deployed at Damboa in conjunction with elements of Sector 2 Special Forces while on clearance operations along Damboa -Maiduguri Road, made contact with Islamic State West Africa Province criminals’ ambush team along their axis of advance,” he said..
Enenche added that “the valiant troops outflanked and engaged the criminals with an overwhelming volume of firepower forcing them to withdraw in disarray.
“In the aftermath of the encounter, 17 Boko Haram/Islamic State West Africa Province criminals were neutralised as several others were believed to have narrowly escaped with varying degrees of gunshot wounds while a cache of arms and ammunition were equally captured by the gallant troops.
“Regrettably, two valiant soldiers paid the supreme price while four others were wounded in action. However, the wounded in action soldiers have been evacuated to a military medical facility and currently responding positively to treatment.”
He said that the Theatre Commander Operation LAFIYA DOLE had been directed to immediately deploy a Special Forces Battalion to reinforce and dominate Damboa – Bulabulin – Maiduguri axis to completely deny the terrorists any chance of escape during the final assault against the criminals.
Killings and kidnapping of security forces and civilians have become a major problem along Maiduguri- Damboa and Damboa – Biu road.
In March, the army pushed back ISWAP fighters in Damboa after five hours of gun battle.
Scores of dead bodies of the insurgents and their 18 abandoned trucks were discovered after the encounter.
Some security officials, including members of the Civilian JTF and hunters, also lost their lives in the attack.
The Nigerian Army few months ago began an operation deep into the Timbuktu Triangle in Damboa Alargano forest area to clear suspected ISWAP positions.
However, soldiers have continued to face challenges from ambushes and Improvised explosive devices and more recently the negative impact of the rainy season.