A joint Nigeria-Chad military operation against “Boko Haram terrorists” in the Wulgo area of Borno state on Saturday, April 13 left 27 militants dead, the Nigerian Army said, as Islamic State claimed multiple attacks in the Lake Chad area.
Troops conducting joint clearance operations “had a fierce encounter with Boko Haram terrorists at the northern part of Wulgo, Tumbuma, Chikun Gudu and Bukar Maryam villages,” Colonel Sagir Musa said in a Monday statement.
Musa said 27 “terrorists” were killed while there were no casualties among the Nigerian and Chadian forces.
— Nigerian Army (@HQNigerianArmy) April 15, 2019
One Land Cruiser vehicle was destroyed, and a wide range of arms, ammunition and materiel were recovered, including five technicals, “several” motorcycles, a Land Cruiser Buffalo and a Nissan GT, two anti-aircraft guns, two General Purpose Machine Guns and a PK Machine Gun, five AK-type assault rifles, a Heckler & Koch G3 rifle, a Galil rifle, an M21 sniper rifle, and four rocket-propelled grenade launcher tubes.
Musa said that a “coordinated military operation is ongoing especially in the fringes of Gombaru – Ngala and surrounding areas” dealing with militants fleeing the Multi-National Joint Task Force’s ongoing Operation Yancin Tafki.
It is unclear which faction of Boko Haram was targeted in Saturday’s action. Both have operated in the wider area in recent months, although the wider Lake Chad area is a stronghold of Islamic State West Africa province.
The Multinational Joint Task Force, which comprises troops from Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria, launched Operation Yancin Tafki on February 21. MNJTF spokesperson Colonel Timothy Antigha has said it is aimed at “making islands and other settlements in Lake Chad untenable for Boko Haram Terrorists.”
On Sunday, ISIS in a statement claimed ISWA fighters on Saturday responded to an attack by the Nigerian army in the “Tombum” area of Borno. ISIS said Musa al-Ansari carried out a suicide car bomb attack, and that 23 soldiers were killed and others injured.
An earlier ISIS statement claimed ISWA fighters on Saturday killed three at a checkpoint manned by soldiers from Niger and a militia in Sabon Gari in northern Borno state. It said two vehicles, weapons and ammunition were captured.
ISIS on Saturday claimed a “tank” from the “African crusader alliance,” a term it uses for the regional MNJTF, was destroyed by an IED near Toumour in Niger on Friday.
None of the three claims attributed attacks to Islamic State’s global ‘Vengeance for Sham’ campaign.
The jihadist group known as Boko Haram split into two factions in mid-2016. One led by long-time leader Shekau is notorious for suicide bombings and indiscriminate killings of civilians. Shekau pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi in March 2015, but ISIS central only gives formal backing to the other faction, which it calls Islamic State West Africa province.
The ISWA faction, which largely focuses on attacking military and government targets, was led by Abu Mus’ab Al-Barnawi, but last month, audio recordings revealed that ISIS appointed Abu Abdullah Idris bin Umar, also known as Ibn Umar al-Barnawi, as leader. ISIS has not yet made a public statement confirming the change.
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.