Armed ViolenceNews

2 Or 40? Army, ISWAP Give Conflicting Figures Of Military Casualties In Recent Attack

The Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), a breakaway terrorist group from the Boko Haram, claims it killed 40 personnel of the Nigerian Army in an ambush attack on Tuesday, July 7.  But the military said only two soldiers lost their lives in that incident.

ISWAP shared the information in an infographic released by An-Naba, a weekly newspaper published by the Islamic State’s media office.

Titled ‘Harvest of a Month in West Africa’, the graphic contains details of the group’s operations from the middle of Shawwal (Islamic 10th month) to the middle of Dhul-Qa’dah (Islamic 11th month). The period coincides with some time between the second week of June and the first week of July.

“The Khilafah soldiers ambushed a Nigerian Army convoy on Tuesday, 16th Dhul Qa’dah (July 7), on the Maiduguri-Damboa highway, and clashed with them using diverse weaponry, killing 40 at least and injuring others, while the rest of them fled, and the mujahidin [fighters] burned an armoured vehicle and took ghanimah [booty] of a troop carrier and 6 4-wheel drive vehicles,” the newsletter said.

But in the Nigerian Army’s accounts of the event, the number of deaths recorded was far less, despite photos showing this to be inaccurate.

The Defence Headquarters said on July 8 about the attack that it involved the troops of 25 Task Force Brigade deployed at Damboa and Sector 2 Special Forces under Operation Kantana Jimlan.

After making contact with the terrorists’ ambush team, it said, “the valiant troops outflanked and engaged the criminals with an overwhelming volume of firepower forcing them to withdraw in disarray.”

It said 17 members of the terrorist group were killed and several others narrowly escaped with different degrees of gunshot wounds.

“Regrettably,” it added, “two valiant soldiers paid the supreme price while four others were wounded in action. However, the wounded in action soldiers have been evacuated to a military medical facility and currently responding positively to treatment.”

Security sources, however, told AFP that 35 soldiers were killed during the ambush, 18 sustained injuries, and 30 others could not be accounted for.

According to Premium Times, no fewer than 37 soldiers lost their lives.

“According to sources familiar with the incident, the military authority is only being economical with facts about the attack,” the paper reported.

“The sources, mostly serving soldiers in the front lines, accused the military authorities of sweeping the sad development ‘under the carpet,” it said.

ISWAP, in the infographic, stated that it also killed 16 Nigerian Army personnel and injured others on June 28 during an ambush between Damboa and Maiduguri.

Checks show that the Nigerian Army did not release any statement confirming this attack. Media organisations, however, reported the death toll on the part of soldiers to be nine or 10.

Two other attacks were featured on the newsletter as part of the group’s “most prominent attacks” of the month.

It said on June 9, it attacked “a crowd of militiamen loyal to the murtadd Nigerian army” in Faduma Koloram, a village in Gubio, Borno State, and killed 90 people.

On Saturday, June 13, it added, it carried out an attack “on a crowd from the Crusader Cameroonian army in Karinwa village in the Marti area, near Lake Chad” and killed 34 soldiers by detonating a vehicle full of explosives.

In total, within the one-month period, the group claimed responsibility for killing over 290 people, destroying six barracks, burning 10 houses, seizing 14 vehicles, and destroying 14 others.

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'Kunle Adebajo

Head of Investigations at HumAngle. ‘Kunle covers conflict alongside its many intricacies and fallouts. He also writes about disinformation, the environment, and human rights. He's won a couple of journalism awards, including the 2021 Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Journalism, the 2022 African Fact-checking Award, and the 2023 Michael Elliott Award for Excellence in African Storytelling.

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