Four Nigerian troops were killed on Sunday, August 18 in an ambush in Borno state carried out by fighters suspected to be from Islamic State West Africa Province, two military sources told AFP.
The militants opened fire on a military patrol in Mogula village in the east of Borno state, close to the border with Cameroon, killing four soldiers and seizing two machine guns, one of the military officers said.
“Our troops came under attack by ISWAP terrorists in Mogula in an ambush in which we lost four soldiers,” the first source said.
“The attack happened around 11:00 hours when the team was on routine patrol in the area,” the officer said.
The second officer gave the same toll and said the insurgents seized two military pickups but were forced to abandon them as they slowed their escape due to the poor state of the road.
“They however dismantled the anti-aircraft guns mounted on the two vehicles and went away with them,” he said.
The sources asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to speak on the incident.
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.
ISWAP fighters have in recent weeks been asserting their presence in areas near the border with Cameroon controlled by Shekau’s faction of Boko Haram.
On August 10, ISWAP fighters on motorcycles ambushed a military convoy 28 km (17 miles) from Mogula in an unsuccessful attempt to seize weapons, the sources said.
Decade-long cross-border insurgency
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.
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.
The MNJTF, which comprises 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.”
With reporting from AFP