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Chad: Dozens of soldiers dead after jihadi attack

August 6, 2021

Chadian soldiers were attacked while patrolling the volatile Lake Chad region. Both Boko Haram and the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) are active in the area.

Chadian army in N'Djamena
Chadian soldiers have previously helped fight against Boko Haram in neighboring NigeriaImage: AFP/Getty Images

At least 26 Chadian soldiers were killed after they were reportedly ambushed by jihadis while on patrol in the volatile Lake Chad region, the Chadian military said Thursday. 

"Twenty-six members of the Chadian army fell on the field of honor, 14 others have been wounded, including eight seriously," army spokesperson General Azem Bermandoa Agouna said. "Several terrorists were neutralized and cleanup operations continue."

The attack reportedly took place on Wednesday at the Lake Chad island of Tchoukou Telia. 

Which group could be behind the attack?

The military blames Islamic fundamentalist group Boko Haram for the attack, but the region is also home to a rival splinter group called the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP).

Lake Chad borders: Chad, Nigeria, Niger and Cameroon.

Boko Haram began its insurgency in 2009 in northeastern Nigeria and gained a notorious reputation for its mass kidnapping of schoolgirls. The group later expanded its operations to neighboring countries. 

ISWAP has fought Boko Haram over territory in the region. After Boko Haram leader Abubaker Shekau died in May, a video showed Boko Haram members switching their allegiance to ISWAP. 

According to the UN, some 30,000 people have died since the beginning of Boko Haram's 12-year insurgency. The fighting has displaced millions of people.  

Former Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno ordered an extensive military offensive in April 2020 against Boko Haram after around 100 Chadian soldiers were killed in the region. Chadian troops pursued the militants in Nigeria and Niger as part of the "Wrath of Bomo" operation, killing roughly 1,000 Boko Haram militants. 

Idriss Deby died in April while fighting against antigovernment militants, with his son, Mahamat Deby, becoming the country's de facto interim president.

Mahamat Deby has vowed payback for Wednesday's attack.

wd/sms (Reuters, AFP)