At least 70 Nigerian soldiers died on Monday in a terrorist attack in the state of Borno, in northeastern Nigeria, according to military sources told AFP. Other informants raise the death toll to a hundred. The attack occurred when a military convoy was on its way to carry out an action against the Islamic State in West Africa (ISWAP) and, as it passed through the Alagarno forest, was ambushed. The Nigerian government has not recognized the casualties.
The soldiers were participating in Operation Ayiso Tamonuma designed to combat ISWAP, a terrorist group that has been very active in recent months. The terrorists threw a grenade at a truck loaded with weapons and ammunition, killing at least 40 soldiers in the explosion. Later they pounced on the convoy. "We have suffered many losses," said an anonymous military source who added that an unknown number of soldiers who were left alive may have been kidnapped. Military spokesman Sagir Musa confirmed the attack, according to Reuters, which adds that the bodies of the deceased were taken to the Maimalari military hospital.
Although the attack has not been claimed, everything indicates that it is the work of ISWAP, a spin-off of the terrorist group Boko Haram. Just three weeks ago, the Nigerian Army suffered a similar coup in Goniri, Yobe State, in which jihadists destroyed numerous vehicles and weapons. Also, on March 9, this group published a series of photographs showing the execution of six Christians in alleged revenge for the murder of the leader of the Islamic State, Abubaker al Bagdadi, last October.
For a year the ISWAP has been under the orders of Abdullah Ibn Oumar al Barnaui, known as Ba Idrisa, who replaced Abu Musab al Barnawi in the leadership. Its main operational base is on Lake Chad. This terrorist group, which separated from Boko Haram in 2016 due to the rivalry between Abubakar Shekau, the caliph of the latter group, and Al Barnawi, a leader recognized by the Islamic State, has been weaving networks of complicity with the local population and has been replacing the state in matters such as tax collection, surveillance and control of roads and highways, health care and justice.
However, after the coming to power of Ba Idrisa, ISWAP has unleashed a new offensive both in Niger, where it has strengthened ties with the Islamic State of the Greater Sahara (EIGS) of Al Saharawi, as well as in Chad, northern Cameroon and Nigeria itself. The multiplication of attacks and the response of the Nigerian Army have once again raised the level of violence in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, where the conflict with this nebula jihadist has lasted for 11 years and has caused some 35,000 deaths and the displacement of more than two millions of people.