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Base attack leaves 30 Nigerian soldiers dead

Attack on Nigerian military baseIslamist militants killed up to 30 soldiers in an attack on a military base in north-east Nigeria, security sources said, one of the biggest attacks of its kind this year.

The attack by suspected members of Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA) was on a base in Zari in Borno State.

In 2016 ISWA split from Boko Haram, the jihadist group which has killed more than 30,000 people in the region since 2009, when it launched an insurgency to create an Islamic caliphate.

The Zari attack highlights the challenge to secure the north-east, months ahead of a February election in which security looks set to be a campaign issue.

“The battle lasted about two hours and our colleagues fought them but things became bad before fighter jets arrived. We lost about 30 soldiers and about 10 were wounded,” said a military source who did not want to be named.

Another, who also did not want to be named, said 20 to 30 troops were killed in a surprise attack. Details only emerged days later because it occurred in a remote area near the border with Niger.

The attack, in the Mobbar local government area of Borno, is the latest blow to Nigeria’s efforts to defeat insurgencies by Boko Haram and ISWA.

Earlier Reuters reported Nigerian government officials ordered thousands of displaced people to return to Guzamala, an area said by aid agencies to be unsafe, as pressure mounts to show progress in the war against the insurgents ahead of the presidential election.

President Muhammadu Buhari, a former general, won the 2015 election after vowing to crush Islamist militants. He plans to seek a second term in February.

In July the fourth commander in 14 months was named to lead the fight against the militants after a number of defeats, despite government having said since late 2015 Islamists in the region had been defeated.

Twenty Nigerian soldiers went missing in mid-July following a clash with militants in the Bama area of Borno. Military sources say the troops are feared dead.

 

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