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Controversy over alleged secret burial of 1,000 soldiers

Military authorities secretly buried more than 1,000 soldiers, who were killed in the battle with insurgents, in a bid create the impression that the counter-insurgency had been won, The Wall Street Journal, has reported.

The newspaper reported that military sources said the number of soldiers buried in that manner could be higher than 1,000.

But the Defence Headquarters has dismissed the report, saying it had no graveyards where soldiers were secretly buried. It said that fallen heroes were given full military burial according to global best practices.

However, the paper insisted that on the eve of President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to Borno State in November, army commanders secretly moved corpses of soldiers from a morgue to unmarked graves at Maimalari.

Quoting soldiers, diplomats and senior government officials, the newspaper stated that the corpses were covertly transported in a truck from a mortuary in the dead of the night and buried in “trenches dug by infantrymen or local villagers paid a few dollars per shift.”

“Several of my comrades were buried in unmarked graves at night,” said a soldier from the Maimalari barracks, where more than 1,000 soldiers are based.

“They are dying and being deleted from history,” the soldier added.

The newspaper quoted a senior government official as saying that the secret gravesite at Maimalari was not the only one in Nigeria’s troubled North-East.

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