Four Nigerian soldiers were killed and five injured in a Boko Haram attack on a military base in Buni Yadi in Yobe state, the army said on Sunday.
The attack was the latest in a string in northern Nigeria and southern Niger in recent days.
The insurgents used captured military equipment in the attack which began at around 6:05 p.m. on Saturday, February 16, including a Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle, a MOWAG vehicle and four technicals – pickup trucks with mounted guns, Colonel Sagir Musa, Acting Director Public Relations said in a statement.
Five Boko Haram militants were killed and a significant quantity of arms and equipment was recovered, including one technical, an anti-aircraft gun, nine AK-type assault rifles, four improvized explosive devices, a motorcycle and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, Musa said.
One of the soldiers killed was an officer and those injured were in a stable condition, Musa added.
It is unclear which faction of Boko Haram conducted the assault, but Islamic State West Africa province has been active in the area. ISWA has captured a number of armored vehicles in recent attacks, including a MOWAG Piranha and a Otokar Cobra armored personnel carrier which ISIS said were captured during an attack on Baga in December 2018.
ISIS has not claimed the Buni Yadi attack, but in a statement the group claimed ISWA fighters destroyed two military vehicles near Mallam Fatori in the north of Borno state, in the Lake Chad area near the border with Niger. Nigerian troops with air support have fought a series of ISWA attacks in the Mallam Fatori area in recent days.
There were reports of coordinated attacks at the same time in Gajigana and Gajibo, but these incidents have not yet been confirmed.
Boko Haram’s bloody insurgency began in northeastern Nigeria in 2009 but has since spread into neighboring Niger, Chad and Cameroon, prompting a regional military response. Some 27,000 people have been killed and two million others displaced, sparking a dire humanitarian crisis in the region.
Boko Haram split into two factions in mid-2016. One is led by Abu Mus’ab Al-Barnawi and 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.
Shekau pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, but ISIS central only gives formal backing to the Barnawi faction, which is known as Islamic State West Africa province.
Both factions of Boko Haram have intensified attacks in the region over several months, but the upsurge in ISWA attacks has been much more serious. Amid signs of a takeover by more hardline leaders, the group has launched dozens of assaults on military targets in Borno and Yobe states in Nigeria.
Boko Haram kills eight in Maiduguri
Boko Haram insurgents killed eight people in Nigeria during an attack in the northeastern city of Maiduguri late on Friday, February 15, a civilian militia leader said on Saturday.
“We recovered a total of eight bodies of residents killed in the Boko Haram attack,” Haram Abba Aji-Kalli of the Civilian JTF militia told AFP.
Militants shot residents while two suicide bombers blew themselves up in Maiduguri’s Jiddari Polo neighborhood.
It is unclear which faction of Boko Haram was responsible, but the use of suicide bombers is a hallmark of Shekau’s faction.
On Thursday, miilitants overran a military base north of Maiduguri, stealing an armored vehicle and torching buildings in an attack that left “several soldiers” missing, two military sources said on condition of anonymity.
The day before, at least four people were killed when the insurgents struck a convoy belonging to the governor of northeast Nigeria’s Borno state, of which Maiduguri is the capital.
Nigeria’s electoral commission postponed Saturday’s presidential and legislative vote for a week.
The delay has been condemned by both President Muhammadu Buhari, who is standing for a second term, and his main opponent, former vice president Atiku Abubakar.
In the hard-fought presidential campaign, Atiku has seized on Buhari’s failure to defeat the group while the president has claimed the insurgency is weakening.
Buhari said in December 2015 that Boko Haram was “technically defeated” after a sustained counter-insurgency. But on January 9 he acknowledged setbacks in the fight-back, including “battle fatigue” among soldiers from a wave of guerrilla style hit-and-run tactics and suicide bombings.
Seven Niger soldiers killed in Boko Haram clashes
Seven Niger soldiers were killed when their post was attacked by Boko Haram in the country’s southeast near Nigeria, the birthplace of the jihadist group, the government said Saturday.
The interior ministry said Friday’s raid in Chetima Wanou had led to the death of seven soldiers and injured six others while “on the enemy side [there were] several deaths including one corpse left on the spot and many injured.”
The evening raid was conducted “by heavily armed Boko Haram elements traveling in a convoy which included an armoured vehicle,” it said.
The interior ministry said the assailants were repelled after heavy fighting, adding that the soldiers had captured eight jihadists and seized “three vehicles loaded with machine guns, three AK47 assault rifles and loads of ammunition.”
The army engaged in a “cleaning up operation … to catch and neutralise the enemy,” it said.
Chetima Wangou is a small village about 25 km (15 miles) southwest of the regional capital Diffa. Since 2015, the group has targeted areas near Lake Chad, north of the city.
“Boko Haram wanted to surprise the Niger army by attacking an area far from Lake Chad,” a local elected official told AFP.
Islamic State claimed ISWA fighters attacked the military base in Chetima Wangou. It said that one soldier was killed and others injured, and seven vehicles were captured.
The United States recently handed over a communications and operations center to the Niger army to help in the battle against Boko Haram.
The planning and operations control center is designed to help Niger forces synchronize its operations through improved communications.
Niger’s defense minister said in December that he feared Boko Haram would launch renewed attacks on its positions from January, when the river’s waters begin to recede.
In early January, a Nigerien army ground and air military offensive in the area against the armed group killed nearly 300 Boko Haram militants, according to the defense ministry.
With reporting from AFP