Nigerian troops have thwarted an Islamic State attack on a military formation in the volatile northeast, killing dozens of fighters, the army said on Thursday, June 27.
Fighters from the Islamic State West Africa Province faction of Boko Haram in seven gun trucks and motorcycles stormed the base at Goniri, Yobe state on Wednesday evening, army spokesperson Sagir Musa said in a statement.
The ambush “resulted in the annihilation of dozens of terrorists,” while many fled with injuries, he said.
Five gun trucks, weapons and rounds of ammunition were recovered from the militants, while their motorcycles were destroyed.
Troops of 120 Task Force Battalion in Goniri, Yobe State in a professional manner, tactically waited for the terrorists to close into the killing range and opened heavy volume of fire on the criminals who approached the location with 7 gun trucks and several other fighters pic.twitter.com/DjYJxKQfnW
— Nigerian Army (@HQNigerianArmy) June 27, 2019
Musa did not say if the military lost soldiers in the encounter.
On January 25, the army said that Nigerian soldiers had fought off a series of Boko Haram attacks in Yobe and neighboring Borno state. Earlier that month, Islamic State claimed attacks on Nigerian military bases in Sabon Gari and Buni Gari in Yobe state.
ISWAP in Nigeria
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