Farouq Yahaya, a major-general and commander of operation Lafiya Dole, narrowly escaped when suspected Boko Haram insurgents attacked his convoy on Sunday, military sources have said.
Operation Lafiya Dole was launched by the Nigerian army to fight insurgency in the north-east.
The commander was said to be returning to Maiduguri, the Borno capital, when the insurgents struck along the Damaturu-Maiduguri highway.
The insurgents, in the past weeks, have been attempting a series of attacks, especially on commuters using the highway.
Military sources said they feared information about the commander’s movement was leaked to the insurgents who came, “launching a brutal attack”.
“The convoy ran into the ambush midway into the journey. Immediately, soldiers on the convoy lost balance, and within minutes the insurgents came in close with heavy firepower. They almost got to the vehicle of the commander, but it was pulled away from their range.”
The troops in nearby battalions and formations, sources said, were also targeted by the insurgents who had allegedly planted mines on their possible route.
“It was a coordinated attack, and they must have known when the commander was going to use that highway,” a source said.
“There should be about two battalions where soldiers could immediately come from to engage them. But in order to stop these soldiers, they put mines on their ways. You know what it means if the attack on the commander was successful? That was their aim.”
Some soldiers were said to have been badly injured, and had been evacuated for treatment.
Mohammed Yerima, army spokesperson, was not immediately available to comment on the attack.
This is not the first time the insurgents will attack the convoy of a theatre commander.
In January 2020, a driver attached to Olusegun Adeniyi, Yahaya’s predecessor, was feared killed when the insurgents attacked his convoy.
Adeniyi was also on his way back to Maiduguri from Jakana, where the insurgents had struck earlier.