In heavy fighting with Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) fighters, the Nigerian army lost an Army general and three other soldiers in the northwest of the country, military sources said.

Army spokesman Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu said Nigerian troops encountered and fought ISWAP fighters in Borno state’s Askira Uba local government area. He claimed that 89 jihadists were killed.

“Sadly, a gallant senior officer Brigadier General Dzarma Zirkusu and three soldiers paid the supreme sacrifice … as they provided reinforcement in a counteroffensive against the terrorists,” Nwachukwu said in a statement.

“The family of the senior officer and soldiers have been contacted. The Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen Faruk Yahaya deeply commiserates with the families and relations of the fallen heroes. He has also directed that the troops continue in the ferocious counteroffensive and hot pursuit to eliminate the remnant of the fleeing terrorists,” Nwachukwu added.

Dzarma Kennedy Zirkushu
Nigerian Army BG Dzarma Kennedy Zirkushu, who was killed in the fighting against ISWAP terrorists. (Nigerian Army)

The Nigerian army said that ISWAP fighters attacked Askira on Saturday morning with between 12 and 16 gun trucks. They quickly began burning houses, shops, and a school while forcing many civilians to flee. 

The Nigerian army quickly reinforced the town with troops from the 28th Task Force Brigade, Chibok. It also deployed five A17-Jets, two A-29 Tucano ground support aircraft, two Dragon combat vehicles, and nine Gun Trucks and APC. The Nigerian general was killed in an ambush en route to the town as the army troops were responding to the attack. 

One source with security forces told the local media that ISWAP fighters attacked several other small towns in reprisal after several of their commanders were killed in the fighting and airstrikes in Askira, Uba, Mulai, Ngamdu, and Buniyadi.

“The ISWAP terrorists, who invaded the Askira Uba town, destroyed telecommunication masts, forcing residents to flee,” the security source said on Saturday.