World Bulletin / News Desk
Some 500 Nigerian soldiers have reportedly fled to neighboring Cameroon in the wake of fierce clashes with Boko Haram militants.
"They fled after running out of ammunition following clashes with Boko Haram," a Nigerian security official told Anadolu Agency, requesting anonymity.
He said that fleeing soldiers had taken temporary refuge at schools in the area.
Nigerian authorities denied Monday that Nigeria soldiers have "deserted" to Cameroon in bid to escape fighting against Boko Haram militants in the restive northeast.
"The Nigerian troops that were found in Cameroon was as a result of a sustained battle between the troops and the terrorists around the borders with Cameroon which saw the Nigerian troops charging through the borders in a tactical maneuver," defense spokesman Chris Olukolade said in a statement.
"Being allies the normal protocol of managing such incident demanded that the troops submit their weapons in order to assure the friendly country that they were not on a hostile mission," he said.
The spokesman added that the troops are on their way back to Nigeria after all issues were resolved following necessary discussions between Nigeria and Cameroonian military authorities.
"The reference to the incidence as a defection is therefore not appropriate considering the discussion between the two countries' military leadership and the series of contacts with the soldiers who have confirmed that they are safe," Olukolade insisted.
He also confirmed fierce fighting between troops and Boko Haram insurgents at Gamboru-Ngala.
"Troops are repelling a group of terrorists who are trying to enter the country through Gamborou Ngala," he said.
"A group of them who fizzled into town are being pursued," added the spokesman.
BOKO HARAM GAINS
Local residents have told Anadolu Agency earlier that Boko Haram militants had seized Gamboru-Ngala, a large border town situated between Nigeria and Cameroon.
If the capture of Gamboru-Ngala is confirmed, it would bring to four the number of key towns in Nigeria's northeast taken and administered by Boko Haram.
The other three are Gwoza in the restive Borno State, Buni Yadi in Yobe State and Madagali in Adamawa State.
The militant group also controls a number of small villages throughout these vast territories.
Last week, at least three people were killed and 15 abducted in a fresh cross-border raid by Boko Haram into northern Cameroon.
The militant group has already been blamed for several previous cross-border attacks from Nigeria.
Boko Haram, which means "Western education is forbidden" in Nigeria's local Hausa language, first emerged in the early 2000s preaching against government misrule and corruption.
The shadowy sect became violent in 2009 after its leader, Mohammed Yusuf, died in police custody only hours after being captured along with a handful of followers.
In the five years since, Boko Haram has been blamed for numerous attacks – on places of worship and government institutions – and thousands of deaths.Güncelleme Tarihi: 26 Ağustos 2014, 10:07