Three Nigerian soldiers, including an army commander, were killed on Monday when their truck hit a landmine planted by Boko Haram jihadists in troubled northeastern Nigeria, military sources told AFP.
The military vehicle hit the mine while patrolling in a three-vehicle convoy in Damboa district, Borno state, two military sources said. “The 145 Task Force Battalion lost its commanding officer, a lieutenant colonel, and two soldiers after their vehicles stepped on an IED (improvised explosive device) buried by Boko Haram terrorists,” one military officer said. “Four soldiers sustained serious injuries,” said a second officer.
The injured soldiers were evacuated by air to Maiduguri, the Borno state capital, for medical care, he said. Both officers did not want to be named as they had not been authorised to speak to the media. Boko Haram has in recent weeks stepped up attacks on military and civilian targets, raiding bases and villages. On Saturday four gunmen broke into a house in Gambari neighbourhood on the outskirts of Maiduguri, killing four construction workers, militia sources said.
A Boko Haram group was suspected of carrying out the attack, the sources said. Boko Haram’s decade-long uprising to establish a hardline Islamic state in Nigeria’s northeast has spilled into neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon. A regional military coalition is battling the radical Islamist group. At least 27,000 people have been in killed in Nigeria alone, and forced some two million others from their homes. ‘
Also authorities in Niger on Monday foiled a “terrorist” attack on a high-security prison near the capital Niamey, Interior Minister Mohamed Bazoum said on Twitter. “Around 10 armed assailants tried to attack the prison at around 1600 GMT but were repelled because the security forces were already aware of an impending raid,” a security source told AFP. “There are no deaths in our ranks for the moment,” Bazoum said.
The Koutoukale prison, some 50 kilometres (30 miles) north of Niamey, holds many jihadists. The security source said the assailants infiltrated the Koutoukale market to launch their attempt on the prison. The prison was previously attacked in October 2016 by assailants aboard motorbikes wielding explosives. Considered to be Niger’s most secure prison, the facility holds the country’s most dangerous detainees, including jihadists from groups active in the Sahel area and Islamist militants from Nigeria’s Boko Haram. It also holds security prisoners from neighbouring Mali. Niger, along with Chad and Cameroon, suffers from the spillover of Boko Haram’s decade-long uprising to establish a hardline Islamic state in Nigeria’s northeast. The conflict has killed more than 27,000 people and left 1.8 million homeless.