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Nigerian army chief unharmed after suspected Boko Haram attack

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Nigerian Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Kenneth Minimah (foreground) reviews troops near Pulka, on the frontline in Borno State, northeast Nigeria on June 9, 2015/AFP

Nigerian Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Kenneth Minimah (foreground) reviews troops near Pulka, on the frontline in Borno State, northeast Nigeria on June 9, 2015/AFP

ABUJA, Nigeria, Aug 23 – Suspected Boko Haram fighters ambushed a convoy carrying the head of the Nigerian army, the military said on Sunday, sparking a firefight in which 10 militants and a soldier were killed.

Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, who was unharmed, was visiting troops in the northeast Saturday when insurgents attacked in Faljari village, 45 kilometres east of Borno State capital Maiduguri, army spokesman Sani Usman said in a statement.

“The terrorists encountered an overwhelming firepower from the troops in which 10 of them were killed. The troops captured five terrorists,” he said.

“During the encounter, sadly, we lost a soldier, while an officer and four soldiers sustained gunshot wounds.”

News of the attack came with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon due to arrive in Nigeria later Sunday to commemorate the fourth anniversary of a deadly attack on the global body by Boko Haram in the capital Abuja.

The Islamist group has stepped up its attacks in Borno and two neighbouring states in its northeastern heartland since President Muhammadu Buhari came to power in May.

The fresh wave of violence has claimed more than 1,000 lives over the last three months, dealing a setback to a four-country offensive launched in February that had chalked up a number of victories against the jihadists.

An 8,700-strong Multi-National Joint Task Force, drawing in Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Benin, is expected to go into action soon.

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