Around 150 Boko Haram fighters reportedly entered Konduga, near Maiduguri, with a large herd of cattle pretending to be herders and opened fire on troops stationed in the town, leading to a six-hour gun battle which led to the death of 73 of the insurgents.
The insurgents’ move was aimed at capturing the strategic Konduga town which is just 35km from Maiduguri
Witnesses said a would-be suicide bomber was shot and killed before he could ram his explosives-laden car into a military checkpoint in the town during the attack on Monday.
Troops and vigilantes have been stationed in Konduga to prevent it from being used as a launchpad to attack the Borno state capital
A civilian vigilante, Butari Mala, told AFP: “Among those killed was a suicide bomber who was shot inside his car loaded with explosives before he could reach his target.
“The rest fled into the bush but were pursued and bombarded by a fighter jet that deployed from Maiduguri.”
A military source in Maiduguri, who requested anonymity, confirmed Mala’s account, including the death toll.
The attack happened at about 7:00 am (0600 GMT) and the gunmen abandoned the cattle as they approached a military post, said Konduga resident, Abba Kaka.
“Unknown to the Boko Haram gunmen herdsmen in Konduga had been asked to keep away from some designated no-go areas,” he added.
“So when the gunmen came in through these designated areas it was clear to soldiers they were not genuine herdsmen and they met the soldiers waiting for them,” Kaka said by telephone from Maiduguri.