Boko Haram militants killed two soldiers in a gun attack in Buni Gari in Nigeria’s northeast Yobe state, and seriously wounded five militia members in a suicide bomb attack in Borno state capital Maiduguri, military and militia sources told AFP Sunday, December 2.
In the first incident, Boko Haram gunmen attacked a remote base in Buni Gari village, in Yobe state, around 60 km (37 miles) south of the state capital Damaturu on Saturday, with six of the assailants killed.
“We lost two soldiers in the attack and six terrorists were also killed and their bodies recovered by soldiers,” a military officer told AFP.
Air support and reinforcements from a military base in the nearby town of Buni Yadi “effectively routed” the jihadists, said the officer. He asked not to be named because he was not cleared to speak about the incident.
A member of the militia fighting beside the troops confirmed that the bodies of two soldiers and six jihadists had been recovered after the gun battle, which lasted less than an hour.
Buni Yadi district is a known Islamic State West Africa Province stronghold, according to AFP.
Boko Haram split into two factions in mid-2016 over ideological differences. One faction, known as Islamic State West Africa Province and led by Abu Mus’ab Al-Barnawi, largely focuses on attacking military and government targets, while the other, led by Abubakar Shekau, is notorious for suicide bombings and indiscriminate killings of civilians
Update December 3 Islamic State propaganda agency Amaq claimed “17 members of the Nigerian army were killed and others wounded” in an attack by ISIS fighters in Buni Gari.
In a later statement, ISIS claimed “soldiers of the Caliphate” from its West Africa Province affiliate state killed 17 soldiers in clashes at the army barracks in Buni Gari.
Update December 4 The number of soldiers killed in the attack has risen to eight, security sources told AFP.
“The death toll is now eight. Six more bodies of soldiers were later recovered and moved to Damaturu,” a military officer, who did not want to be named, told AFP.
“All the eight dead soldiers are now in the morgue at the Specialist Hospital in Damaturu,” said a spokesperson for a civilian militia, who asked not to be identified for fear of sanction.
The insurgents destroyed an armoured vehicle and stole a truck during the attack.
Since July, around 20 military bases have been attacked, and in recent days a number of assaults have been launched in the Lake Chad area.
On Saturday, ISIS claimed ISWAP killed eight Nigerian soldiers and wounded 17 others in an attack near Gamboru in the Lake Chad area, close to the border with Cameroon. The Nigerian Army said that it captured weapons and stores after “terrorists who were massing up for a possible attack” fled during “offensive patrols” against Boko Haram in the area, but did not mention army casualties.
On November 30, Boko Haram militants attacked a military base in Arege village, killing at least one soldier, and two days earlier, three soldiers were killed in attack on a military base in Cross-Kauwa near Lake Chad.
In the most audacious attack on November 18, ISWAP fighters killed at least 43 soldiers when they overran a base in Metele near the border with Niger. Soldiers who survived the raid said more than 100 of their colleagues were killed, but the military on November 28 gave an official figure of 23 deaths.
On November 30 the army lashed out at the media, saying some outlets were “creating erroneous impression of the Nigerian Army through inaccurate and false publication of casualty figures on the unfortunate attacks on some of its locations in the North East.”
Suicide bomb attack in Maiduguri
Around the same time on Sunday in Maiduguri, capital of neighbouring Borno state, a female suicide bomber seriously wounded five members of the local militia at a checkpoint.
Civilian militia members had stopped two female suicide bombers at Muna Garage security checkpoint, but one managed to detonate her suicide vest, militia leader Babakura Kolo said.
“The bomber and her accomplice were killed in the blast while five of our colleagues were injured,” Kolo said.
“The explosives on the other bomber did not detonate and were defused by a bomb squad,” he said.
The Nigerian Army on Sunday confirmed the incident in a series of tweets that include graphic images of body parts.
It said two suicide bombers, one male and one female, were “on a mission to infiltrate Muna Garage” at around 8 p.m. on Saturday. On sighting troops, the woman detonated her suicide vest, killing herself and the male bomber before he could detonate his own explosives.
The area was cordoned off and an explosive ordnance disposal team defused the unexploded vest
“Unfortunately, five members of Civilian Joint Task Force on duty at the market were injured in the explosion,” the army said.
The attack bore the hallmark of the Abubakar Shekau faction of Boko Haram.
Shekau has pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. ISIS central gave its formal backing only to ISWAP, but a recent video featuring Shekau hints at attempts to reconcile with ISWAP.
Borno and Yobe states, along with nearby Adamawa state, have born the brunt of nine years of jihadist violence that has claimed 27,000 lives and forced 1.8 million people to flee their homes.
Last week, President Muhammadu Buhari traveled to N’Djamena to meet leaders from Chad, Niger and Cameroon to discuss how to deal with the surge in violence.
The leaders “expressed the crucial need to change their modus operandi in the fight against Boko Haram” and urged the international community “to support their efforts in the fight against terrorism in the region” in a joint statement after the talks.
Buhari is under pressure to show his administration is winning the fight against Boko Haram ahead of a presidential election in February at which he will seek a second term in office.
With reporting from AFP