Bomb Explosion Kills 30 Taliban Militants, Thousands Flee Borno as ISWAP Sacks Military Super Camp

Thirty Taliban militants were killed when a bomb exploded during a bomb-making class at a mosque in Afghanistan’s Balkh province, The Defense Post, a US newspaper concerned with defence news around the world reports.

Quoting AFP, an international news agency, the newspaper also reports that a jihadist attack in the North-East axis of Nigeria forced many people to flee after Islamic State-affiliated insurgents overran a key military base.

The Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) group that split from the Boko Haram movement in 2016 has become a dominant threat in the region, attacking soldiers and bases while killing and kidnapping passengers at bogus checkpoints.

Late on Friday, ISWAP fighters on board several trucks fitted with machine guns allegedly raided Dikwa, in Borno State, where the Nigerian Army has one of its key “super camp” military bases.

“The terrorists attacked the super camp… and dislodged troops”, a military officer who asked to remain anonymous reportedly told AFP.

“They attacked the base from the northern and northeastern flanks, overwhelming the soldiers and forcing them to withdraw”, said a second military source who also spoke on condition of anonymity.

As residents started fleeing, the Nigerian Air Force sent fighter jets, pushing the insurgents back out of the town, the sources said.

This was not the first raid by insurgents on super camps.

As recently as Monday ISWAP killed eight soldiers when its fighters dislodged troops from another base in Marte, also in Borno, according to military sources.

The army base in Marte had already been temporarily overrun in January.

On Sunday the Nigerian army replaced its military commanders in Dikwa and Marte for “incompetence and leadership gap” following the attacks, military sources said.

There were still no official details of military or civilian casualties.

But in a statement that could not be independently verified, ISWAP claimed the Dikwa attack, saying its fighters killed 15 soldiers and injured several others.

The group also claimed it destroyed eight military vehicles and seized four others along with ammunition.

The total number of people displaced following the attack is not yet known but more than 130,000 people live in Dikwa including 75,000 who had already fled from other parts of the region and were living in camps.

“We ran out into the bush and to Ajiri (town) while fighting was going on”, resident Adamu Ahmad said.

Another resident, Babuji Usman, also confirmed that many people had fled to Ajiri (15 kilometers away) after Friday’s attack.

Nigeria has been fighting insurgents in the region for more than a decade.

In August 2014 Boko Haram had seized Dikwa but it was retaken seven months later with the help of Chadian forces, allowing residents to return.

The conflict has killed 36,000 people and displaced around two million from their homes in the northeast, according to the UN.

Chief of Army Staff, Major General Ibrahim Attahiru, earlier on Sunday, February 21, visited troops of Army Super Camp 9 in Dikwa Local Government Area of Borno, and gave troops 48hours to clear Marte, Kerenoa, Chikun gudu and other adjoining villages. He promise necessary support for the mission. 

However, six of the dead Taliban militants were foreigners who were “expert mine makers”, The Khaama Press News Agency reported, citing military officials.

The mosque is situated in a village in Dowlatabad district, where the group had gathered to be trained in making bombs and improvised explosive devices (IED).

A representative of the Afghan Army’s 209th Shaheen Corps said in a statement Saturday that only 24 bodies of the deceased, who were from Afghanistan, have been identified.

The Taliban often use IEDs to target government and foreign forces in the war-torn country. Thousands of civilians have also been killed as “collateral damage.”

Explosive Mishaps

Inadvertent detonations during bomb-making or training to assemble explosive devices have occurred multiple times among militants in the country.

Last year in April, four Taliban fighters were killed while making a bomb in Ghazni province, Ava Press reported.

A month later, a bomb exploded in a house in the southern province of Zabul, where a group of militants had gathered to assemble the explosive, leaving the building destroyed and three militants, including the homeowner, dead.

Meanwhile, in August, four more Taliban fighters died in a similar fashion in Balkh while making explosives in Chahabar Bolak district.

The explosion also destroyed a large cache of explosives the group had assembled in a mosque.

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