A Nigerian army base fell under jihadist control after heavy fighting. The attackers would still have control of the base despite an ongoing armed forces operation.
Jihadists suspected of being affiliated with the Islamic State in West Africa (Iswap) group took control of the Marte military base in northeast Nigeria on the evening of January 15, sources told AFP military personnel on condition of anonymity.
Many fighters arrived in militarized trucks and attacked this base in the Lake Chad region, which they still control, according to these corroborating military sources, despite a military operation currently underway.
“We suffered an attack from Iswap terrorists. They invaded the base of Marte after intense fighting, “said an officer who requested anonymity before adding:” Our priority now is to regain control of the base, and an operation is currently underway. “
“Our troops suffered loss of life and equipment, but we are still collecting precise information,” said a second military source, also on condition of anonymity.
Repeated terrorist attacks in Nigeria
The Nigerian army has suffered heavy losses in recent years against fighters from Iswap, a dissident branch of the Boko Haram group which has been sowing terror in northeastern Nigeria for more than 10 years.
Iswap, affiliated with the Islamic State (IS), seceded from Boko Haram in 2016 and took refuge mainly in the Lake Chad area, a border and strategic region between Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger.
Last week, fighters had already carried out an attack on the base in Marte, but it had failed and the army command had decided on a larger deployment in the area.
The Nigerian army, which since the coming to power of President Muhammadu Buhari has regained control of northeastern Nigeria despite the increase in attacks, has carried out numerous raids on several jihadist bases in recent weeks. As AFP points out, the Nigerian army has adopted a strategy of “super military camps” which gather its troops in a few specific points, in a huge region, where infrastructure is poor or non-existent. Populations and NGOs regularly denounce this tactic, which leaves entire swathes of the territory out of control and millions of people in insecurity, without state protection and without access to humanitarian aid.
The conflict between the Nigerian armed forces and Boko Haram has claimed 35,000 lives and displaced around two million people from their homes since 2009.