Intense fighting in northeastern Nigeria between regional armies and ISWAP jihadists has left at least 25 soldiers and more than 40 Islamist fighters dead according to security sources.
ISWAP (Islamic State Group in West Africa), a branch of Boko Haram arrived in pick-ups Monday morning at dawn in the city of Baga, on the shores of Lake Chad, in the far northeast of Nigeria.
“The terrorists killed 20 Nigerian soldiers and five Chadian soldiers in intense fighting that also killed 47 terrorists,” reported an anonymous military source.
The Joint Regional Force (JRF), which brings together soldiers from the regional armies to fight against Boko Haram groups in the Lake Chad region, issued a statement on Monday saying it had killed 10 jihadists and lost a single soldier.
Possibly higher numbers?
But the toll is much higher according to sources contacted by AFP.
According to a second military source, ISWAP fighters carried out a first attack on the Baga base before being repelled. In their flight, they fought other battles against a military convoy arriving from the Borno state capital, Maiduguri.
“They came face to face with Special Forces that had been warned by the barracks and many terrorists were killed in this fight,” explains this source, who gives the same toll of losses.
The Baga military naval base, on the shores of the lake where jihadist fighters are entrenched, has been the victim of repeated attacks since 2014, the last one dating back to last December.
Since July 2018, ISWAP has intensified its attacks on military bases in the north-east and has caused dozens, even hundreds of deaths among regional armies, and has accumulated a large arsenal of warfare.
Can the terrorirists be defeated?
On Tuesday, the Nigerian presidency assured that it had “defeated” the Islamists of Boko Haram “as we know them”, ten years after the beginning of the insurrection in July 2009.
“The Nigerian government’s position is that Boko Haram’s terrorism has been reduced and defeated. The real Boko Haram we know is defeated,” the presidency said.
Over the past 10 years, the conflict has left nearly 27,000 people dead and more than 2 million displaced people still cannot return to their homes.