By Babajide Okeowo
Six Nigerian soldiers have been killed after a suicide bomber rammed an explosives-laden vehicle into them during a clash in northeast Nigeria’s Borno state, two military sources said Tuesday.
The suicide bombing was carried out by a member of the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) group on Monday and took place as the soldiers were conducting a raid of the group’s stronghold in the village of Talala, the military sources told AFP.
They said scores of terrorists have been killed in the operation launched last week on ISWAP’s second largest camp.
“Our men dominated the terrorists, killing dozens, and out of frustration they sent a suicide bomber who killed six soldiers,” one of the officers said.
They said the troops overran the Talala camp despite the bombing.
On Saturday 13 soldiers were killed in an ISWAP ambush near the town of Gujba in the neighbouring state of Yobe, according to military sources.
ISWAP, which split from the mainstream Boko Haram in 2016, has become a dominant group, focusing on military targets and high-profile attacks, including against aid workers.
The jihadist group has in recent times stepped up attacks on troops and frequently abduct travellers at bogus checkpoints along the highway linking the Borno capital Maiduguri and Damaturu, the capital of Yobe.
At least 36,000 people have been killed in the conflict since 2009 with around two million displaced in the northeast, according to the UN.
The violence has spilled into neighbouring Chad, Niger and Cameroon, prompting a regional military coalition to fight the jihadist groups.