Boko Haram militants attacked a military base in northeast Nigeria, killing at least one soldier, military sources told AFP, a day after regional leaders urged more international support to fight the jihadists.
Fighters from Boko Haram’s Islamic State West Africa Province faction came in trucks fitted with anti-aircraft guns and attacked the base in Arege village near the fishing town of Baga on the shores of Lake Chad.
The base came under attack before dawn on Friday, November 30, prompting clashes, a military source told AFP.
“The attack was successfully repelled but unfortunately a soldier was killed and seven others were injured,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the incident.
The same base came under attack on Wednesday, but the militants failed to overrun it “and suffered heavy casualties,” the Nigerian Army tweeted on Thursday. In a Facebook post, the army said four Boko Haram militants were killed and an anti-aircraft gun, four AK-47 assault rifles, a light machine gun and hundreds of rounds of ammunition were recovered.
The insurgent group has lately intensified its armed campaign, launching a number of major assaults in Nigeria’s remote northeast region, amid signs of a takeover by more radical leaders.
Boko Haram split into two factions in mid-2016 over ideological differences, but a recent video posted by Abubakar Shekau hints at a possible reconciliation with the faction led by Abu Mus’ab Al-Barnawi and known as Islamic State West Africa Province.
Shekau’s faction is notorious for suicide bombings and indiscriminate killings of civilians, while the Barnawi faction largely focuses on attacking military and government targets.
Shekau has pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, but ISIS central gave its formal backing only to ISWAP.
The upsurge in attacks has been seen as a sign of a hardline takeover in the ISWAP faction by more radical lieutenants and have stretched the army at a time when troops are complaining of fatigue.
Since July, around 20 military bases have been attacked, most of which were claimed by ISWAP.
In the most audacious attack on November 18, ISWAP fighters killed at least 43 soldiers when they overran a base in Metele near the border with Niger, although soldiers who survived the raid said more than 100 of their colleagues were killed. The military on Wednesday gave an official figure of 23 deaths.
On November 20, Islamic State published images it said were from the recent attacks, including pictures of the captured vehicles.
The latest attack came a day after President Muhammadu Buhari traveled to N’Djamena to meet leaders from Chad, Niger and Cameroon to discuss how to deal with the surge in violence.
Buhari is under pressure to show his administration is winning the fight against Boko Haram ahead of a presidential election in February at which he will seek a second term in office.
“The heads of state and government … expressed their deep concern with regards to the upsurge of attacks … and expressed the crucial need to change their modus operandi in the fight against Boko Haram,” a joint statement said after the talks.
They also urged the international community “to support their efforts in the fight against terrorism in the region.”
The nine-year conflict has killed 27,000 people and displaced 1.8 million from their homes.
The violence has also spilt over into neighboring Chad, Niger and Cameroon.
With reporting from AFP