Nigeria says foiled Boko Haram attacks, killed 20

LAGOS – The Nigerian military announced on Thursday inflicting heavy casualties on the Boko Haram insurgents who had planned new attacks in northern Nigeria.

"Attempts by terrorists to attack Ajiri and Mafa as well as other communities in the outskirt of Maiduguri and Dikwa in Borno State towards the Cameroon borders, yesterday were foiled by the security forces," Defense spokesman Chris Olukolade said in an email sent to the media.

"Twenty insurgents died in the encounter, while our troops sustained varying degree of injuries," he added.

"Arms captured from the terrorists include various brands of machine guns and improvised explosive devices," said the spokesman.

Olukolade, meanwhile, expressed "grave concerns" about claims by some persons that the military is being outgunned in the counterinsurgency war mounted since last May when President Goodluck Jonathan declared an emergency in the three northeastern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa.

"It has become clear that this sustained campaign is intended to demoralize the troops and give impression that the military is overwhelmed by the terrorist group. This tendency is unfortunate to say the least," he added.

Borno Governor Kashim Shettima and other opposition figures have recently argued that Boko Haram was better armed and more motivated than the Nigerian military.

The whole of February and the last few days of March have been the bloodiest in the insurgents' ruthless terror campaign since 2009.

Well over 500 people have been murdered during this period, including 29 college students killed in their sleep in the last week of February.

Boko Haram, a hitherto peaceful organization that had preached against corruption, suddenly turned violent in 2009 following the murder of group leader Mohamed Yusuf while in police custody.

In the years since, the group has been blamed for thousands of terrorist acts, including attacks on churches and security posts across Nigeria's northern region, especially Borno, Yobe and Adamawa.

Although it claims to want an Islamist government in the region, Nigerian Muslims – most of whom reject Boko Haram as un-Islamic – have also been targeted by the militant group.

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