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Nigeria troops ‘repel Boko Haram attack’ at Gashigar, Borno state

Nigerian troops repelled a Boko Haram attempt to infiltrate their location in Gashigar, in the northeastern Borno state, the army said.

The Boko Haram fighters were “completely routed by the troops and they fled in disarray due to superior firepower” by troops of 145 Batallion, Nigeria’s army tweeted.

“Preliminary battle damage assessment reveals that the overwhelming superior power of the troops devastated the insurgents, inflicting human and equipment casualty on them and forcing the insurgents to withdraw in disarray,” Director of Army Public Relations Brigadier General Texas Chukwu said in a Thursday, September 27 press release.

The insurgents traveled on nine trucks, Chukwu said.

Gashigar is around 43 km (23 miles) northeast of Damasak near the Niger river in the Mobbar Local Government Area of northern Borno state.

Boko Haram has intensified its armed campaign in recent weeks, launching a number of major assaults on military bases in the remote northeast region, although Nigerian commanders have strongly denied reports of heavy troop casualties.

The recent surge undermines repeated claims by the military that the insurgent group has been defeated, and Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari’s insistence that Boko Haram are a spent force as he gears up for elections next year.

The jihadist insurgency is in its ninth year and has left more than 27,000 people dead and displaced 2.6 million, Although Boko Haram no longer controls the swathes of territory in northeast Nigeria it did at its 2014 height, its militants still pose a threat to the region.

In the most recent incident on September 23, troops repelled another attempt by Boko Haram to overrun a military base in the village of Kekeno, near the garrison town of Monguno. A military officer said the militants were equipped with anti-aircraft guns and rocket-propelled grenades, but were unable to breach defensive ditches during an hours-long assault. Reinforcements were sent from Monguno, and a fighter jet was deployed that forced the jihadists to withdraw.

On September 12, Nigerian soldiers repelled an attempted Boko Haram attack on a base in Damasak, in the far north of Borno state on the border with Niger.

On August 30, 48 soldiers were killed in an attack on a military base in Zari, around 30 km (20 miles) from Damasak on the border with Niger. That attack is thought to have been launched from nearby Garunda village, where 17 soldiers were killed in a Boko Haram attack on a military base on August 8.

Islamic State West Africa Province

Boko Haram is divided into two factions that have competing goals and operational methods. One, led by Abubakar Shekau, is notorious for suicide bombings and indiscriminate killings of civilians. The other, known as Islamic State West Africa Province and led by Abu Mus’ab Al-Barnawi, largely focuses on attacking military and government targets.

ISWAP is dominant around the shores of Lake Chad in Borno while the Shekau-led faction is concentrated in rural areas of the state.

More radical elements are said to have taken over the ISWAP leadership, prompting fears of an upsurge in violence against the local population. ISWAP has previously vowed to hit only military and government “hard” targets.

Barnawi, the son of Boko Haram’s founder Mohammed Yusuf, is widely seen as just a figurehead, with Mamman Nur directing day-to-day operations, but Nur was reportedly killed last month by hardliners because of his more moderate approach.

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