A suspected Boko Haram cattle rustling syndicate was on Sunday busted by Nigerian soldiers who engaged the armed gang in a shootout that left three of them dead and a soldier injured.
The group, believed to be Boko Haram herders, were intercepted in Lingir village of Borno State while attempting to flock some rustled cows into the Maiduguri cattle market.
The spokesperson of the Nigeria Army, Sani Usman, said the armed herders were attacked by troops of 8 Division Mobile Strike Team deployed at Forward Operations Base, Mairari, on Sunday. He said the troops effectively ambushed the herders and engaged them in a shootout.
"During the encounter, the ambush party neutralized 3 Boko Haram terrorists, while some of them have escaped with gunshot wounds," Mr. Usman, a brigadier general said.
"The troops recovered 5 AK-47 rifles, 5 Magazines, 11 rounds of 7.62mm (Special) ammunition, 1 metal box containing clothes and a horse.
"Unfortunately, one of our soldiers sustained an injury during the operation. The injured soldier has been evacuated to 8 Task Force Division Hospital and Medical Services at Monguno where he is receiving further medical attention.
"The Mobile Strike Team also followed up with pursuit up to Buruwa village around Gassawa general area where they neutralized an additional Boko Haram terrorist and recovered an AK-47 rifle from him".
In 2015, the Borno State government in collaboration with the Nigeria military banned the sale of beef and cows in the Maiduguri cattle market and abattoir following an Intel that most of the revenues accrued from the sales there go to Boko Haram fighters. The ban was later lifted due to pressure from butchers and cattle sellers who vowed to help government fish out culprits.
Following the control of a large part of the Sambisa forest by soldiers, the remnants of the insurgents have resorted to periodic suicide bombings and snatching of herds from poor pastoralists. The insurgents usually sell such cattle to generate revenue to buy food and other things needed to survive in the jungle.
The Boko Haram activities have caused about 100,000 deaths since 2009.