At least one soldier and two suspected Boko Haram gunmen died on Thursday evening after a gun duel between security forces and the insurgent group in Biu Town of Borno State, witnesses and a security source have said.
PREMIUM TIMES gathered from a top security official that the Biu attack wasn't a happenstance as the Department of State Security (DSS) had earlier furnished the military in Biu with relevant intelligence of the pending attack.
The gun battle, according to witnesses in Biu, started at about 5 p.m. on Thursday when a gang of gunmen invaded the town on a robbery mission and immediately engaged soldiers on patrol duty in a shootout which later snowballed into burning of houses, shops and vehicles.
The security source, who sought anonymity as he was not authorised to speak, described the development as "unfortunate."
"We lost a soldier but two of the Boko Haram gunmen were also killed in the attack," said the source.
A resident of Biu, a town located some 185km away from Maiduguri, said "many innocent civilians were injured by stray bullets."
"But I cannot say if anyone died as a result of that," the resident, who did not want his name mentioned for security reasons, said.
The resident said trouble started when the gunmen stormed a Coca Cola mini deport in the centre of the town and robbed the sales attendants of their money while shooting sporadically in the air.
"The soldiers arrived when the gunmen were attempting to escape, then the shooting started and lasted for about an hour. Many houses, shops and vehicles parked in that area were burnt down," he said.
Attempts to get a response from the JTF spokesman, Sagir Musa, proved abortive as his phone lines did not go through.