Chad soldiers killed in apparent Islamic State attack near N’Gouboua

At least seven Chadian soldiers and a local guard were killed in an ambush near Lake Chad, the latest in a surge of attacks in the region, security sources said on Sunday.

Security sources told AFP the seven Chadian soldiers and the guard were killed in an ambush on Friday, June 21 in Mbomouga in Chad’s N’Gouboua area, and another 13 people were wounded.

“The Boko Haram forces lost six of their people and left behind two weapons,” one security source said.

Among the soldiers killed was a gendarme colonel, the source said. Another source said three army officers were killed in the attack.

TchadInfos also reported at least seven Chadian soldiers killed and 13 injured near N’Gouboua.

Minister of Administration of the Territory, Public Security and Local Governance, Mahamat Abali Salah visited the area along with the Chief of the General Staff, Tahir Erda, Al Wihda reported. That report placed Friday’s attack in Fodio near the Nigeria border, and said that seven soldiers were killed and five others injured, while 23 insurgents were “eliminated.”

Update June 23 “The Chadian army lost 11 men including three officers… and six soldiers were wounded,” the regional authority later told AFP.

It added that Chadian forces killed “26 Boko Haram members” in fighting at Tchoukoutalia after the soldiers recovered cattle that the militants had seized.

“We have banned fishing and closed some fish markets in Lake Province where we think Boko Haram is obtaining food,” Salah said.

“We have also set up a red zone to separate Boko Haram from our people. In this red zone we have banned fishing, grazing. We are now seeing that all these habits have returned. These security measures must be resumed,” Salah said, adding that “security is a priority.”

N’Gouboua, also spelled N’Gounboua, is a sub-prefecture in Kaya department of Lac province on the northeastern bank of Lake Chad, near the borders with Nigeria and Niger. The Islamic State West Africa Province faction of Boko Haram is the dominant insurgent force in the Lake Chad region, particularly in this area.

On May 26, at least four Chadian soldiers and a television reporter were killed when their vehicle hit a mine near N’Gouboua. Multiple reports said the Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Chadian Armed Forces was in the convoy, and they were headed to an army position that had been attacked by insurgents.

In March, 23 Chadian soldiers were killed in a Boko Haram attack in Dangdala, also spelled Dandala, which is in the N’Gouboua sub-prefecture. It was the deadliest attack on the Chadian army in the decade-long Boko Haram insurgency.

The Multinational Joint Task Force, a regional counter-insurgency force comprising personnel from Chad, Cameroon, Niger, and Nigeria, launched Operation Yancin Tafki on February 21 to battle the insurgents. It has said the cross-border operation is aimed at “making islands and other settlements in Lake Chad untenable for Boko Haram Terrorists.”

On Friday, the Nigerian Army said an MNJTF operation on the Nigeria side of the border killed 42 ‘Boko Haram Terrorists,’ while one Chadian soldier was killed and 12 other soldiers were injured.

The jihadist group known as Boko Haram began its bloody insurgency in northeastern Nigeria in 2009, but it has since spread into neighboring Niger, Chad and Cameroon, prompting a regional military response. More than 27,000 people have been killed and two million others displaced, sparking a dire humanitarian crisis in the region. The U.S. assesses that Boko Haram and ISWAP have been responsible for over 35,000 deaths since 2011.

Boko Haram split into two factions in mid-2016. One, led by long-time leader Abubakar 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 ISWAP faction, which largely focuses on attacking military and government targets, was led by Abu Mus’ab Al-Barnawi, but in March, audio recordings revealed that ISIS appointed Abu Abdullah Idris bin Umar, also known as Ibn Umar al-Barnawi, as leader. Despite releasing several videos featuring ISWAP since, ISIS has not yet made a public statement confirming the change.

Since May, Islamic State has attributed insurgent activities in the Mali-Burkina Faso-Niger tri-border area to its West Africa Province affiliate, rather than to what was previously known as Islamic State in the Greater Sahara. In a June 15 ISIS propaganda video, ISWAP militants purportedly in Nigeria, Mali and Burkina Faso were shown reaffirming their pledge of allegiance to ISIS leader Baghdadi.

With reporting from AFP

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