Military sources to Reuters Africa have revealed that Islamic State West Africa (ISWA), a breakaway faction of Boko Haram have killed hundreds of soldiers in attacks in the North-East region of Nigeria.
ISWA split from Boko Haram in 2016 and as President Muhammadu Buhari makes a bid for a second-term, soldiers have been described as “fatigued, ill-equipped government troops have reached breaking point.” (Reuters Africa).
According to the military sources, Islamic State West Africa (ISWA) has “killed 48 soldiers at a military base and, in a separate attack, left 32 dead in Gudumbali – a town to which thousands of refugees were ordered to return in June.”
The fight against Boko Haram was one of the major promises of Muhammadu Buhari as a Presidential candidate in 2015.
“The situation in the northeast is deteriorating,” said one security source, speaking on condition of anonymity. “They are running out of weapons, ammo and basic equipment. They are exhausted.”
Islamic State West Africa (ISWA) is “winning almost all its battles with the military.”
The Nigerian Military spokesman has however denied these reports.
“It’s not true,” said Brigadier General John Agim, adding that no soldiers had died at Gudumbali.
Two other sources said, “an ISWA attack on a base in July killed at least 100 soldiers, according to people familiar with the matter. Many of the dead were interred in a mass burial.”
“The military are a bit like sitting ducks, waiting for a very mobile and versatile enemy to strike at a weak point or another,” said Vincent Foucher, who studies Boko Haram at the French National Centre for Science Research.
“Many of our troops have been in the theatre for over two years,” said one captain. “They don’t know how their families, their wives and children, are.”
Some soldiers said though they do get a few days of leave, it is often barely enough time to go from the field to their families before they must return.
Others said their wages and rations are often embezzled by their commanders, there is too little equipment, and many vehicles are broken and gathering rust. One said his men had to buy blankets from refugees for 300 naira ($1) each to keep warm. (Reuters Africa)
Credit: Reuters Africa