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ISWAP claims killing 40 Nigerian soldiers in attacks

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Islamic State Wednesday claimed it killed or wounded more than 40 soldiers in Borno State in two separate attacks on Tuesday.

The insurgents via its Amaq news agency said it attacked a military post in Baga and killed at least 15 troops before carrying out a second attack on another army barracks in Benisheik, where they killed or wounded around 25 more.

ISWAP’s claims are coming hours after the Nigerian government claimed Boko Haram’s 10-year-old insurgency had been “defeated” but admitted that international jihadists posed a growing threat.

“The position of the Nigerian government is that the Boko Haram terrorism has been degraded and defeated,” President Muhammadu Buhari’s spokesman Garba Shehu said in a statement on Monday.

“The real Boko Haram we know is defeated,” the presidency said in a statement late Tuesday.

Shehu said the country was now facing “a mixture” of Boko Haram remnants, criminal groups and jihadists from the Maghreb and West Africa fuelled by turmoil in Libya and the collapse of the Islamic State caliphate in the Middle East.

Boko Haram started as a non-violent group but turned deadly after its leader, Mohammed Yusuf, was killed by the police in 2009.

Yusuf’s successor, Abubakar Shekau, undertook a violent campaign against schools, churches, mosques, state entities and security forces.

At a point during Boko Haram’s reign in Nigeria’s northeast, the insurgents controlled a large swathe of land, which it declared its caliphate.

In March 2015, Shekau pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. In August 2016, the Islamic State named Abu Musab al-Barnawi, Muhammad Yusuf son, as the group leader leading to two factions of the insurgent group.

While the ISWAP group targets the armed forces, the Shekau-led group targets the civilians. ISWAP has since July 2018 carried out numerous attacks on military bases killing hundreds of troops.

The obvious attacks on the military than the civilians may be the reason the Nigerian government claims that “the real Boko Haram we know is defeated.”

However, a distressful attack over the weekend killed at least 65 people travelling from a funeral in Borno. Although there has been no claim of responsibility, the attack bore the hallmark of Boko Haram of the Shekau’s faction.

Buhari on Sunday condemned the attack and directed the country’s air force and army to begin air patrols and ground operations to hunt down the attackers, a statement released by the president’s office said.

Security analysts say the Nigerian troops lack capacity to confront the militants.

More than 30,000 people have been killed in northeast Nigeria since 2009 when Boko Haram insurgency started. It has also ocassioned a humanitarian crisis with more than a million people displaced.


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