ISIS claimed fighters from its Islamic State West Africa province affiliate attacked a military base in Geidam in northeast Nigeria on Wednesday, January 23.
One resident said militants infiltrated the town on market day, and that local people had days earlier been warned of an impending attack.
Two Nigerian Air Force jets were deployed during the incident, according to the report.
According to a January 24 Daily Trust report, two armored personnel carriers were burned. A vigilante member, said militants were in control of the town for almost three hours after ‘overpowering’ the military, while a resident said soldiers fled the town during the assault, returning the following morning.
Update January 26 Citing anonymous military sources, Premium Times reported eight soldiers were killed and many others were wounded. It said insurgents in 12 technicals attacked the town, and that they looted and burned several shops.
The Nigerian Army confirmed some of the reported information about the attack.
The attack by “Boko Haram Terrorists” began at 5:30 p.m. with sporadic shooting, Lieutenant Njoka Irabor said in a Facebook post.
The militants “who came to loot foodstuffs and other items, took advantage of the market day in Geidam to infiltrate the town and attacked the military base,” Irabor said.
The troops “discretely” engaged the insurgents “with less sophisticated weapons in order to minimize collateral damage with the attendant civilian casualties,” he said.
“Sadly however, the troops, in the process suffered some casualties in vehicles, equipment and personnel,” Irabor added, without giving details.
ISIS in a Wednesday statement claimed ISWA fighters attacked a military base in Geidam in Yobe state “resulting in the death and injury” of a number of soldiers. It said a “tank” and five four-wheel drive vehicles were captured, along with weapons and ammunition.
ISIS’s Amaq propaganda agency claimed two “tanks” and four other vehicles were destroyed.
Update January 24 ISIS in a statement claimed ISWA fighters attacked a military base in Ajiri, killing seven soldiers and injuring others. It said militants captured a four-wheel drive vehicle, weapons and ammunition.
Update January 25 As Tomasz Rolbiecki notes, the attack claimed by ISIS in Ajiri was near the town of “دياقـو”. This approximately transliterates to “dyāq-w” or “diaqw,” most likely meaning Dikwa. Rolbiecki said additional information he has received places the incident here, around 15 km (9 miles) south of Dikwa, a location that corresponds with an entry for Ajiri in the GeoNames database.
Boko Haram split into two factions in mid-2016. One is led by Abu Mus’ab Al-Barnawi and largely focuses on attacking military and government targets, while the other, led by Abubakar Shekau, is notorious for suicide bombings and indiscriminate killings of civilians.
Shekau pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, but ISIS central gives its formal backing to the Barnawi faction, which is known as Islamic State West Africa province.
ISWA has lately intensified its armed campaign, launching dozens of assaults on military targets in Borno and Yobe states amid signs of a takeover by more hardline leaders. ISWA attacks have increasingly featured in ISIS propaganda.
Troops killed five militants on Saturday after an attack using a suicide car bomb (SVBIED) in the Baga area of Borno state, on the shores of Lake Chad. Nigerian troops had returned to Baga on January 9 after a wave of ISWA attacks against military bases in late December that forced more than 30,000 civilians to flee.
The same day, two Boko Haram fighters were killed in operations near Kajeri Maye village in the Mafa district of Borno, the army said. it is unclear which faction the militants belonged to.
On Sunday, troops “successfully defeated Boko Haram terrorists” who attacked a military base in Buni Yadi in Yobe state, the army said. Military sources told AFP that four soldiers were killed in the attack which they blamed on ISWA.
Islamic State claimed ISWA fighters attacked Kareto on Saturday, and its Amaq propaganda agency said ISWA fighters had attacked both Baga and Kareto.
On Friday, six soldiers were killed and 14 injured in a Boko Haram attack on Kamuya village near the home of Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai’s mother.
the attacks come as Nigeria gears up for crucial elections.
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari said in December 2015 that Boko Haram was “technically defeated” after a sustained counter-insurgency. But on January 9 he acknowledged setbacks in the fight-back, including “battle fatigue” among soldiers from a wave of guerrilla style hit-and-run tactics and suicide bombings.
Buhari was elected in 2015 on a promise to end the conflict and security has again become an election issue as he seeks a second term in the presidential election on February 16. National Assembly elections will be held the same day, while regional polls are set for March 2.
More than 27,000 people have been killed since the insurgency began in 2009, and 1.8 million people are still homeless and in need of humanitarian assistance.