The Nigerian Army has identified its commander killed on Saturday in the Askira Uba Local Government Area of Borno State by the Islamic State West African Province fighters as Brig Gen Dzarma Zirkusu.
The Director, Army Public Relations, Brig Gen Onyema Nwachukwu, said in a release obtained by SaharaReporters that the family of the senior officer and those of three soldiers who died in the gun battle have been contacted by the army authorities.
He said, “Troops of Joint Task Force, North East Operation HADIN KAI have neutralized several Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorists during a recent encounter in Askira Uba Local Government Area of Borno State. In the fierce encounter which is still raging as at the time of filling this report, troops supported by the Air Component of OPHK have destroyed five A – Jet, two A-29, two Dragon combat vehicles and nine Gun Trucks.
“Sadly, a gallant senior officer Brigadier General Dzarma Zirkusu and three soldiers paid the supreme sacrifice in a very rare diplay of gallantry as they provided reinforcement in a counter offensive against the terrorists, and successfully defended the location.
“The family of the senior officer and soldiers have been contacted. The Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen Faruk Yahaya deeply commiserates with the families and relations of the fallen heroes. He has also directed that the troops continue in the ferocious counter offensive and hot pursuit to eliminate the remnant of the fleeing terrorists.”
SaharaReporters earlier reported that the Brigadier-General, who is a commander in the Nigerian Army, was shot dead.
Suspected fighters of ISWAP had engaged the troops at a military base in the Askira/Uba LGA in a gun battle.
Some civilians had said they sighted the ISWAP fighters in a long convoy of gun trucks along Ngude axis towards Askira, early this morning.
The civilians had claimed they reported the movement of the terrorists to security forces but no action was taken before the deadly group stormed Askira town hours later.
While confirming the attacks, Engr Abdullahi Musa Askira, Deputy Speaker of Borno House Assembly, had said the insurgents and troops were currently exchanging gunfire.
“Yes, ISWAP is currently attacking Askira town. I was reliably informed that our troops are fighting them, but the residents are in the bush.
“My people told me that the insurgents came with about 16 gun trucks and there is confusion in the whole town now,” Askira said.
It was gathered that troops of 28 Task Force Brigade, Chibok, had mobilised to provide reinforcement in Askira, which was under attack.
The troops were ambushed while on their way to provide support for the soldiers battling the insurgents.