Following a fierce encounter with Boko Haram militants in Nguro Gongon village in Borno State, in north-eastern Nigeria, several soldiers of the national army were reported missing. The army said that in addition to those missing, more than a dozen of their soldiers were wounded in clashes on Thursday (21 July). Some of the soldiers were critically wounded.

Spokesman for the army Colonel Sani Usman said their troops attacked makeshift camps of Boko Haram terrorists on Thursday, while they were on patrol at Guro Gongon village and its surrounding areas to eliminate all the remaining militants from the region. The troops reportedly recovered several weapons from the camps, but while returning to their base they were ambushed by the militants.

Usman, the acting director of army public relations, said their "gallant soldiers" who were returning to their defensive locations following their successful raid on the militants' hideouts "ran into an ambush by a group of Boko Haram terrorists who came to reinforce their fleeing comrades". However, the Nigerian troops "fought back gallantly killing several of the insurgents", the spokesman was quoted by Premium Times Nigeria as saying.

He added that 19 soldiers and three civilian JTF members – "civilian members" in the military squad – were wounded in the clashes while some personnel went missing. Without mentioning the exact number of the missing soldiers, Usman said that the army deployed a rescue team to search for those missing.

Nigeria army
Nigerian soldiers were caught in an ambush in a village near Borno State after they attacked militant hideouts. Some soldiers were injured while others are reported missing - File PhotoGetty Images

"The wounded have been evacuated and are responding to treatment, while a search and rescue party comprising of Special Forces personnel has since been dispatched to establish contact with the missing in action troops, some of whom, as at the time of filing this report, have started returning to their defensive location," he said.

He added that the recovered weapons include a truck mounted with an anti-aircraft gun, a Mowag armoured personnel carrier (APC), a rocket-propelled grenade tube, one light machine gun, three AK-47 rifles and motorcycles.

"It is pertinent to state that, no stone would be left unturned until every person involved in the operation has been accounted for," he noted.