West & Central Africa

IS in West Africa claims responsibility for attack in Nigeria

Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) has claimed responsibility for an attack which killed eight soldiers in Sassawa villege, near Damturu, Yobe State on 24 October.

Lietenant H Shuaibu, commander of a forwarding base in Sassawa was killed in the attack. According to a Nigerian Army situation report seen by Sahara Reporters, the Army received credible intelligence that Boko Haram terrorists were planning a major attack on troops of the 233 Battalion stationed at the forwarding base in Sassawa on October 17, 2017. Army Intelligence officers notified the Nigerian Air Force and requested for air cover. Curiously, however, the request was not acted upon until the terrorists struck, killing Lieutenant Shuaibu, eight soldiers and seriously injuring 3 others.

In a statement on SITE, on Thursday, October 26, 2017, the terrorist group claimed that its “fighters took three four-
wheel-drive vehicles and others mounted with rifles and heavy weaponry and various ammunition,” in the attack. An eye witness, who told news that “The boys (insurgents) had a field day. After the attack, they forced many shops and stores open and carted food items away”.

Kayode Ogunsany a spokesman of 3 division military base in Damaturu said, “There was casualty on both sides but I cannot ascertain the number. Men on ground had repelled the attack.”

But a military source said, “So far, 15 bodies of soldiers killed in the attack at Sasawa have been recovered, including that of an officer. “Seven more bodies were found in the course of search and rescue operations by 27 Brigade and 233 Battalion. More (soldiers) are still missing and their fate is unknown.”

President Muhammadu Buhari expressed concern over alleged cooperation between Islamic State of Iran and Syria, ISIS, terrorist group and Boko Haram in press conference after meeting with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

This claim by ISWAP has confirmed the speculation of the expanding influence and collaboration of the Islamic State in the West African region and the affiliation of the Abu Mus’ab al-Barnawi (son of Mohammed Yusuf, founder of Boko Haram) group of Boko Haram which has been active in the borders of Niger. It is also the first time IS has taken full responsibility for an attack in Nigeria.

The senior special assistant to the plateau state government and Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Jos north, Cano Nenman Gowon, said, “The church needs to be concerned about this claim of responsibility by IS. The country (Nigeria) need to be very worried. This simply indicates that we have a long war ahead of us with Islamic terrorist groups.”

“We cannot be comforted by the army’s claim in defeating Boko Haram when we can see soldiers themselves dying every now and then in the hands of the Islamic terrorists. As a church we must be concerned and be very prayerful,” he declared.

 

Hassan John is West Africa Editor, GCN and Priest of the Anglican Diocese of Jos

Image Credits: CC Google Images/Boko Haram propaganda video