Nigeria’s Defence Headquarters has for the first time admitted troops were battling terrorists of the same complexion in the northwest, as in the Northeast.
The gunmen were in the past called bandits.
A statement released on Monday by the DHQ spokesman Major General Benjamin Olufemi Sawyer attributed the attack against a military base in Sokoto to ISWAP terrorists.
He confirmed the story last week that the insurgents are now fully operational in the two axis of Nigeria’s north.
ISWAP was also behind the Sunday attack on the Yobe town of Tarmuwa, in Babangida LGA.
The terrorists came in a large number of gun trucks from the Gudumbali axis.
They apparently came on a mission to ransack provision stores and loot food items and medicines.
Though the residents fled, troops came in to engage them in gun battle for hours before they were forced to withdraw.
The terrorists similarly attacked Burkusuma military base in Sokoto early on Sunday.
Although the DHQ spokesman admitted some unspecified casualties on the Nigerian side, a lawmaker said at least 22 security personnel were killed.
Aminu Gobir and another security source said 14 soldiers, five police officers and three members of a civil defence force were killed by the Jihadists.
“Troops of Operation Hadarin Daji in conjunction with other security agencies successfully repelled an attack by suspected Islamic States for West African Province (ISWAP) terrorists and bandits on the Forward Operation Base (FOB) at Burkusuma in Sabon Birni Local Government Area of Sokoto State”, Sawyer said in a press statement today..
“The failed attack, which took place at about 5:30 am, 26 September 2021, in the remote border settlement with Niger Republic was swiftly repelled by troops.
“The aggressive operations of troops of the FOB as witnessed in recent months in the North West region has been a thorn in the flesh of ISWAP and bandits.
“The attackers came in large numbers using telecom network provided from neighbouring country, capitalised on the lean rear area protection force when the main troops were out conducting offensive operations within their area of responsibility.
“However, the swift reinforcement by own troops helped to counter the attack as many of the ISWAP fighters were eliminated while some scrambled with various degrees of injuries, resulting to their pursuit to Bassira in Niger Republic.
“Unfortunately, there were some level of casualty recorded on the part of own troops during the encounter.
“Meanwhile, Nigerian and Nigerien forces in a collaborative operation are currently trailing the remaining ISWAP fighters.
“The general security within the FOB and its environs has been stabilised”, Sawyer concluded.
ISWAP was previously part of the Boko Haram insurgent group based in northeast Nigeria.
It split five years ago, pledging allegiance to Islamic State, and the two groups have fought each other as well as the Nigerian armed forces.
The Boko Haram and ISWAP insurgencies have spilled out of Nigeria into neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
The 12-year conflict has claimed 300,000 lives, according to a United Nations estimate, and left millions dependent on aid.
Sokoto State is far from the Islamist insurgents’ traditional area of operations in northeastern Borno State.
Northwestern Nigeria, including Sokoto, has been hit by a wave of mass abductions this year which the authorities have blamed on to bandits seeking ransoms.
A military crackdown on bandit camps is underway, and Sawyerr suggested a link between that and the attack on the Burkusuma base, though he did not explain the connection.
“The aggressive operations of troops of the Forward Operating Base (at Burkusuma) as witnessed in recent months in the northwest region has been a thorn in the flesh of ISWAP and bandits,” he said