More than 50 Boko Haram fighters were killed in an attack on the Multinational Joint Task Force in northeastern Nigeria, a Chadian military spokesperson said Wednesday.
Two Chadian soldiers attached to the MNJTF, a regional counter-insurgency force comprising personnel from Chad, Cameroon, Niger, and Nigeria, were killed in the Tuesday assault that began at around 5 p.m. (1600 GMT) at Cross Kauwa in the Lake Chad area of Borno state on Tuesday, April 16, Colonel Azem Bermandoa said, adding that 11 other soldiers were injured.
“Fifty-two members of Boko Haram have been killed. Chadian forces have recovered a vehicle equipped with a heavy weapon and several small arms,” Bermandoa said.
MNJTF spokesperson Colonel Timothy Antigha earlier said 39 insurgents were killed and 20 soldiers injured in the attack on Cross Kauwa, which is around 135 km (84 miles) northeast of Borno state capital Maiduguri.
The MNJTF launched Operation Yancin Tafki on February 21, and more than 500 Chadian soldiers have entered Nigeria to battle the insurgents. Antigha has said the cross-border operation is aimed at “making islands and other settlements in Lake Chad untenable for Boko Haram Terrorists.”
The Islamic State West Africa Province faction of Boko Haram is the dominant insurgent group in the Lake Chad area, and ISIS has claimed a number of attacks in Nigeria and Niger over the past week.
On Wednesday, ISIS claimed via its Amaq propaganda agency that Islamic State fighters had killed and wounded “African coalition forces” in the town of “Cross” on Tuesday.
Amaq on Monday claimed that a Nigerian army “tank” and three other vehicles in an ambush in “Cross” on Sunday. ISIS in a statement claimed ISWA fighters attacked a military base in Baga, around 23 km northeast of Cross Kauwa, also on Sunday.
On Monday, the Nigerian Army said a joint Nigeria-Chad military operation against “Boko Haram terrorists” in the Wulgo area of Nigeria’s Borno state on Saturday left 27 militants dead, but that no Nigerian or Chadian personnel had been hurt.
Bermandoa on Monday said Boko Haram militants killed seven Chadian soldiers and wounded 15 in an overnight attack in Bohama in Chad. He said 63 “terrorists” were killed in the incident.
On Sunday, ISIS in a statement claimed ISWA fighters on Saturday responded to an attack by the Nigerian army in the “Tumbum” area of Borno. ISIS said a suicide car bomb attack was carried out by Musa al-Ansari, and that 23 soldiers were killed and others injured.
ISIS on Saturday claimed a “tank” from the “African crusader alliance,” a term it uses for the MNJTF, was destroyed by an improvised explosive device near Toumour in the Diffa region of Niger on Friday. Earlier, Amaq claimed seven MNJTF personnel were killed or injured in the attack.
None of the the recent claims attributed attacks to Islamic State’s global ‘Vengeance for Sham’ campaign.
Boko Haram’s bloody insurgency began in northeastern Nigeria in 2009 but 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 jihadist group known as 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 ISWA faction, which largely focuses on attacking military and government targets, was led by Abu Mus’ab Al-Barnawi, but last month, audio recordings revealed that ISIS appointed Abu Abdullah Idris bin Umar, also known as Ibn Umar al-Barnawi, as leader. ISIS has not yet made a public statement confirming the change.