Armed ViolenceNews

ISWAP Targets Diffa Airport In Niger Republic In Rocket Attack

Three rockets were reportedly launched by the terror group towards the Diffa airport about 10 KM from neighbouring Nigeria.

The Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) on Friday, July 2, 2021 fired multiple rockets towards the Diffa Airport in southeastern Niger Republic, near the border with Nigeria.

The terror group claimed it targeted the airport with three rockets but there was  no immediate information on the impact of the attacks. 

The incident happened at the time Nigerien President, Mohamed Bazoum, was on a three-day working visit to the Diffa Region to inspect the security and humanitarian situation and return of displaced persons

President Bazoum addressed members of the country’s armed forces in Diffa after his arrival on Thursday, July 1, at the Tandja Mamadou Airport. 

The president on the same day met Babagana Zulum, the Governor of Borno State in Northeast Nigeria, which shares borders with Niger, to discuss the repatriation of Nigerian refugees from Borno. 

On Friday, July 2, the President’s Twitter account shared a post of his visit to Baroua, a village abandoned for six years, where authorities chose to start the operation to return displaced populations from the Diffa region.

ISWAP has previously targeted the strategic Diffa airport with grad rockets fired using a crude launching system. 

The facility, about 10 kilometres from neighbouring Nigeria, is sometimes used by the Nigerian Air Force for military operations in Lake Chad Basin and increases the Air Force response time to attacks in Northern Borno. 

In April 2020, ISWAP shared a picture of a camouflage painted pickup truck fitted with four Grad 122mm unguided rocket launcher tubes mounted at the rear of the vehicle.

The fabricated mobile weapon system was reportedly used to target Buni Yadi, a town in Yobe State, Northeast Nigeria.  

The first known use of the Grad rockets was on the morning of Feb. 23,  2019, when ISWAP targeted Maiduguri, Borno State capital. 

ISWAP is believed to have captured a cache of rockets from the Nigerian Army, particularly after the fall of Baga in 2018 and it has since used them in attacks in Nigeria and Niger. 

The 122mm Grad rockets are usually mounted on Russian made BM-21 and its heavier Czech variant, the RM-70 multiple launch rocket system(MLRS) trucks, which are in the stock of the Nigerian Army.

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Murtala Abdullahi

Abdullahi Murtala is a researcher and reporter. His expertise is in conflict reporting, climate and environmental justice, and charting the security trends in Nigeria and the Lake Chad region. He founded the Goro Initiative and contributes to dialogues, publications and think-tanks that report on climate change and human security. He tweets via @murtalaibin

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