The Islamic State group has claimed to have killed 118 people in its self-styled West Africa province in the last week, after a series of attacks against military bases in northeast Nigeria that have raised fears of a resurgent Boko Haram.
The Islamist militant group said in a video posted online late on Thursday that it conducted five operations in Chad and Nigeria between November 15 and 21, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist activity.
No other details were given but the claim follows recent attacks on army bases in Borno state, northeast Nigeria, which has been the epicentre of the deadly nine-year conflict.
Security sources said at least 44 soldiers were killed in an attack in Metele village, near the border with Niger, on Sunday, although one soldier who escaped gave a higher toll.
“The truth is we lost more than 100 men because we were quickly routed,” he said on condition of anonymity from the Borno state capital, Maiduguri, on Friday.
“We were outgunned, so we tried to fight. We realised it was unrealistic so we decided to leave.”
Most of the soldiers were killed as the trucks they were in tried to crash through a perimeter fence at the base but got stuck. Senior officers were among the dead, he added.
Even a search team that came to find the bodies of fallen soldiers on Tuesday was attacked, the soldier said.
On Friday night, the Nigerian Army confirmed that there was an attack on Metele on November 18, but described the casualty figures being reported as false and “various footages” in circulation as “old and inaccurate BHT (Boko Haram Terrorist) propaganda videos.
“While it is understandable how such misinformation can be spread in this era of social media frenzy, the spurious circulation of some of these videos only contribute to further propagate the propaganda intent of the terrorists; to misinform the populace and portray themselves as what they are not,” the Army said in a statement on its official Twitter Handle.
“So far, the situation is that the location is under control as reinforcing units have been able to repel the terrorists and stabilize the situation.”
The army, however, did not provide details of the casualty figures.
PRESS RELEASE ON THE ATTACK ON 157 TASK FORCE BATTALION DEFENSIVE LOCATION AT METELE IN GUZAMALA LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF BORNO STATE
— Nigerian Army (@HQNigerianArmy) November 23, 2018