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Tuesday, December 06, 2022

Islamic State group claims attacks on Nigeria soldiers

ABUJA, Nigeria ( Associated Press) — Dozens of Nigerian soldiers were killed and wounded in recent attacks in Nigeria’s insecure northeast region, according to a statement from the Islamic State group, which said its West Africa members carried out the assaults.

The attacks using explosives targeted soldiers on patrol at various checkpoints in Borno state, killing and wounding more than 30 soldiers, said the statement on the latest of the attacks released late Tuesday.

The Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) is a breakaway fact of the Boko Haram extremist group which launched a rebel insurgency against the Nigerian government more than a decade ago.

Nigeria’s military did not immediately respond to an inquiry for comment to confirm the attacks, but also reported killing “several” extremists and recovering a “large cache of weapons” and vehicles from the militants during “clearance operations” on Monday in Borno state in a location different from where IS said its fighters attacked.

On Tuesday, IS militants targeted a Nigerian army patrol team with four explosive devices followed by mortar shells launched at a military camp in the town of Mallam Fatori, a few miles (kilometers) away from Nigeria’s northern neighbor Niger, the group said in one statement .

An explosive device detonated during another ambush resulted in the death of three Nigerian soldiers in Mallam Fatori, it said, while “all those onboard” a military truck were either killed or wounded in yet another ambush on a Nigerian army convoy in Jiri town on the outskirts of Borno.

Three attacks on Sunday and Monday killed and wounded “several” Nigerian soldiers, IS also said in separate statements, as the security forces continue to fall prey to the militants’ adoption of ambushes in areas where they seek to dominate and control especially along the Lake Chad axis.

Since the death of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau in mid-2021, the IS-linked group have sought to consolidate their position in the Lake Chad basin and northeast Nigeria over Boko Haram, though both the rival extremist groups remain united in an insurgency against the Nigerian government that has expanded to neighboring Niger, Chad and Cameroon and which has resulted in the death of thousands and displacement of millions.

Amid the Nigerian military’s claims of successes in the war against militants, analysts as well as residents – some of who are being forced to return to their homes after being displaced for years – have argued that the extremist insurgency is far from over.

The situation is still a “very, very dangerous (and) very threatening” crisis, the United Nations humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths told The Associated Press last month. It is “a very different kind of operation and very difficult also to deter.”

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Youssef contributed to this report from Cairo, Egypt.

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