The regional Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) has conducted a series of intense operations around Lake Chad that have enabled commercial activities and resettlement; the coalition commander Abdul-Khalifa Ibrahim said on Thursday, Jun. 2.
“Today our coordination with the air component is better, we have killed many of the terrorists. The fact that we are achieving this has allowed freedom of movement, it has allowed commerce to pick up, allowing people to be resettled back to their areas and has allowed the people to become more resilient” Ibrahim, a General with the Nigerian Army, told journalists at the MNJTF headquarters in Ndjamena, Chad.
According to the commander, the offensive had killed at least 805 Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) insurgents during the months of operation around the shores of Lake Chad.
Under its current operation code name, Lake Sanity, the Joint Task Force has reportedly carried out 17 major attacks on strategic enclaves in the area, during which over 4000 of the fighters surrendered.
Though the MNJTF says its improved operations had enabled locals to resume their commuting and commercial activities around the border areas of Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon, the commander is, however, worried about the level of cooperation the troops get from the civilian populace.
Ibrahim informed the journalists on the people-centric nature of the counterinsurgency operations, saying that “because we are fighting an unknown enemy – yes sometimes they wear something that looks like uniforms, but they are still difficult to be identified. That’s why we have to be close to the locals”.
He also stated that “tackling the various Boko Haram factions around Lake Chad depends not only on the effective collaboration of military operations but also on the four countries’ ability to improve conditions for and gain trust among local populations.”
The MNJTF was founded in 1994 as a solely Nigerian force to “checkmate banditry activities and to facilitate free movement” along its northern border. It was later 1998 expanded to include troops from Chad and Niger, with a reviewed mandate of dealing with common cross-border security issues in the Lake Chad region.
From March 2016 to date, MNJTF has carried out several operations such as Operation Gama Aiki, Operation Ruwan Kada, Operation Amni Fakat and Operation Yancin Tafki I & II.
The ongoing campaign is also happening after a weeks-long Operation Sharan Fage in Dec. 2021 and the renewal of the Task Force mandate in January.
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