Maiduguri – Islamic extremists have killed eight soldiers and wounded 17 in two attacks in northeastern Nigeria, the country’s military said on Monday.
The attacks bring the official toll to 10 troops killed and 24 wounded this past week in a resurgence of violence after a lull as the extremists confronted a leadership struggle. The Islamic State’s West Africa Province claimed more than 40 soldiers from a multinational army were killed in just one attack last week.
In the latest, extremists armed with rocket-propelled and hand grenades attacked an army position before dawn Sunday at Logomani, 110km northeast of Maiduguri, the biggest city in Nigeria’s northeast, an army statement said. The troops killed 22 fighters for the loss of four soldiers, it said.
Later on Sunday, the militants exploded a land mine and ambushed a military convoy near Bama, 70 km southeast of Maiduguri, it said. An officer, three soldiers and three insurgents died.
Bama is a remote desert trading post where Borno state Governor Kashim Shettima has set up temporary headquarters to encourage refugees to return home and to speed up reconstruction of the town destroyed when it was occupied for months by Boko Haram.
Officials said 5 400 refugees had returned to homes in other towns last week. But most of the 2 million refugees fear for their safety and Nigeria’s military does not have the manpower to secure every town in the northeast.
Also on Sunday, longtime Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau appeared in a video denying military reports that he was fatally wounded last month. Islamic State in August appointed a new leader in Nigeria, but Shekau has insisted he remains in charge.
In the video, Shekau taunted parents of the kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls saying they will only see their daughters again if the government swaps them for detained extremist leaders.
“To the people of Chibok: You have not seen the worst yet,” he threatens in the video, in which he speaks in Arabic and the Nigerian languages of Hausa and Kanuri. Nearly 300 girls were kidnapped in April 2014 from a school in the northeastern town, 217 remain missing.