An attack by hundreds of Boko Haram terrorist fighters against a military base in southern Niger on Tuesday resulted in the death of 16 soldiers and the wounding of nine more, the country’s defense ministry said.
The attack by the Islamic terrorist group targeted the town of Baroua in the Diffa region, where the military had set up an outpost to protect thousands of residents who had returned to the area in July after taking refuge elsewhere following rebel massacres in 2015.
The government said that they had beefed up security to provide the returning population with greater protection.
Although the casualties among the troops were high, the defense ministry claimed that the army killed 50 attackers and forced them back across the neighboring border of Chad while recovering significant quantities of weapons.
The government had moved more than 6,000 people in the area in late June. It is encouraging 26,000 more civilians, who have been displaced by terrorist attacks, to return back to Baroua. They had been living in UN camps or safer villages for the past six years.
“The terrorists, numbering several hundred, had come from Lake Chad and were pushed back [by military forces]” the ministry said in a released statement. The Jeunesse Diffa (Diffa Youth), which reports on the security issues plaguing southeast Niger, said that “an enemy attack was well repelled and several terrorists were killed.”
Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) Leader Reportedly Dead
The Diffa Youth also reported that Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahrawi, the leader of the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), who led the ambush on American Special Forces troops in Niger in 2017 was killed on August 22. He had pledged his support to ISIS. He was designated as an international terrorist by the United States after the Niger ambush with a five-million-dollar bounty on his head.
The reports of his death have not yet been confirmed.
Boko Haram has been waging an insurgency against neighboring Nigeria since 2009. The violence frequently spills over into Niger, Cameroon, and Chad, especially in the Lake Chad Basin.
Niger has been the subject of attacks from the south by Boko Haram and the Islamic State. The country’s western regions are also beleaguered by insurgent groups from Mali and Burkina Faso. These include JNIM, Islamic State West Africa (ISWA), Islamic State Greater Sahara (ISGS), al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), as well as Boko Haram.
Hundreds of civilians have been killed in terrorist attacks in Niger this year alone.
The restive Diffa region is home to more than 300,000 displaced persons fleeing the violence from Niger and Nigeria.
Niger is considered the poorest country in the world according to the UN’s Human Development Index (HDI).
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