ISIS claims 118 killed in ‘West Africa province’ after Nigeria army bases attacked

The Islamic State group has claimed to have killed 118 people in its self-styled West Africa province in the last week, after a series of attacks against military bases in northeast Nigeria that have raised fears of a resurgent Boko Haram.

The Islamist militant group said in a video posted online late on Thursday that it conducted five operations in Chad and Nigeria between November 15 and 21, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist activity.

No other details were given but the claim follows recent attacks on army bases in Borno state, northeast Nigeria, which has been the epicentre of the deadly nine-year conflict.

Security sources said at least 44 soldiers were killed in an attack in Metele village, near the border with Niger, on Sunday, although one soldier who escaped gave a higher toll.

“The truth is we lost more than 100 men because we were quickly routed,” he said on condition of anonymity from the Borno state capital, Maiduguri, on Friday.

“We were outgunned, so we tried to fight. We realised it was unrealistic so we decided to leave.”

Most of the soldiers were killed as the trucks they were in tried to crash through a perimeter fence at the base but got stuck. Senior officers were among the dead, he added.

Even a search team that came to find the bodies of fallen soldiers on Tuesday was attacked, the soldier said.

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Peter Ayodele Fayose, a former state governor and leading PDP figure, added: “It is time that we face the reality that Boko Haram is not technically defeated.”

Public opinion

Amaechi Nwokolo, a security analyst at the Roman Institute of Security Studies in Abuja, said the insurgency had become politicised.

“Now, as election season and Christmas approach, we are likely to see an upsurge in attacks. These terrorists are not dumb. They will certainly want to create chaos around the election.”

Political analyst Chris Ngwodo said the PDP would likely want to make capital out of the current situation but added it had not translated into a loss of support for Buhari or the APC.

“I can’t see that these attacks have shifted public opinion here,” he said from Maiduguri. “Borno still feels like Buhari territory.

“The opposition will look for chinks in the armour of the ruling party but I don’t know if they can generate the kind of traction from these kinds of incidents.”