A soldier and a local chief were killed in Boko Haram attacks in northern Adamawa state in northeast Nigeria, military and civilian sources said on Sunday, February 10.
Fighters thought to be loyal to Boko Haram faction leader Abubakar Shekau attacked the town of Madagali on Saturday, leading to a two-hour gun battle with troops.
“We lost a soldier in the fight. He was one of the armoured tank drivers,” said a military officer, in an account supported by residents.
Madagali is around 280 km (175 miles) north of Adamawa state capital Yola, near the border with neighbouring Borno state.
The jihadists, who arrived in technical vehicles at about 5:00 pm were eventually forced to retreat to their enclave in the Sambisa Forest, just across the state border in Borno.
“They [Boko Haram] killed a soldier in the fight and also killed the village chief of Gubla as they fled back to Sambisa,” said community leader Maina Ularamu, a former administrative head of Madagali local government area.
Three bodies of Boko Haram fighters were recovered after the battle, the two sources said.
There have been a number of incidents in the wider area in recent weeks.
On February 4, three people were killed when Boko Haram fighters thought to be loyal to Shekau stormed Shuwa and Kirchina, in the Madagali area.
On January 30, Nigerian troops “neutralized” five Boko Haram insurgents and captured a suspected militant in the Gwoza area. Gwoza is around 21 km
Troops fought off an attack by fighters believed to be from Shekau’s Boko Haram faction on January 24 in Pulka, around 18 km north of Gwoza.
Boko Haram’s bloody insurgency began in northeastern Nigeria in 2009 but has since spread into neighboring Niger, Chad and Cameroon, prompting a regional military response. Some 27,000 people have been killed and two million others displaced, sparking a dire humanitarian crisis in the region.
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 only gives formal backing to the Barnawi faction, which is known as Islamic State West Africa province.
Both factions of Boko Haram have intensified attacks in the region over several months, but the upsurge in ISWA attacks has been much more serious. Amid signs of a takeover by more hardline leaders, the group has launched dozens of assaults on military targets in Borno and Yobe states in Nigeria.
On February 8, three troops were killed in a Boko Haram raid on a military base in Ngwom near Borno state capital, Maiduguri. Islamic State later claimed ISWA fighters carried out the attack.
The army said Nigerian troops killed and wounded “scores of” Boko Haram insurgents during a firefight in Mallam Fatori on February 7. ISIS claimed ISWA fighters had carried out actions in the area over several days.
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari was elected in 2015 on a promise to end the conflict and he is seeking 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.
His main opponent is Atiku Abubakar, who is from Adamawa.
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.
With reporting from AFP