On January 3, Chad withdrew 1,200 troops from its Nigerian border, thereby ending its mission to combat Boko Haram. The Chadian forces ended the mission after the nation’s nine-month mandate had expired. “It’s our troops who went to aid Nigerian soldiers months ago returning home. They have finished their mission.
None of our soldiers remain in Nigeria,” said Colonel Azem Bermandoa, a spokesman for the army. He did not specify whether there would be replacements sent to the base.
According to Chad’s general chief of staff General Tahir Erda Tahiro, if the countries in the region in the multinational anti-jihadist force were in agreement, more troops will likely be sent in. “If the states around Lake Chad agree on a new mission there will surely be another contingent redeployed on the ground,” Tahiro said.
Hundreds flee the region
Hundreds of residents in the town of Gajiganna, a town in Nigeria’s volatile northeastern Borno state, have fled to neighboring cities for fear of fresh attacks from militant Islamic group, Boko Haram.
“I left Gajiganna and moved to Maiduguri on Wednesday when I realized that Nigerian soldiers had left their base soon after the withdrawal of Chadian soldiers,” said a Gajiganna resident who fled.
About 300 people have left the town which was previously protected by a strong Nigerian and Chadian military presence due to previous attacks by Boko Haram.
Boko Haram splinter group Islamic State West Africa Province (Iswap) attacked the military base in Gajiganna, killing 11 soldiers in May 2019.
Iswap also reportedly beheaded 11 Christian hostages on Christmas Day in Borno State as retaliation for the killing of Islamic State (IS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a US raid in Syria in October.
“We killed them as revenge for the killing of our leaders, including Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and [IS spokesman] Abul-Hasan al-Muhajir,” said an Iswap media unit member after releasing a video of the hostage executions.
Destruction around Lake Chad
Iswap is active around Lake Chad where the group has training bases on the Niger border and regularly raids military bases and regional security forces in Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon.
Nearly 30,000 people have been killed and more than two million displaced due to Boko Haram’s insurgency since 2011, according to US nonprofit think tank specializing in foreign policy and international affairs, the Council on Foreign Relations’ (CFR) Nigeria Security Tracker (NST).
Its most recent attack took place on Lake Chad in late December 2019, killing at least 50 people, mostly fishermen, after militants disguised themselves as traders.