A male suicide bomber dressed as a woman in a burka struck yesterday in the Chadian capital of N’Djamena. The attack killed 14 people and wounded over 70 others. The blame was immediately placed on Boko Haram, which is now known as “Wilayat Gharb Ifriqiyah” (West African Province), or Islamic State West Africa (ISWA).
The bomber attempted to enter a market within the city but detonated when confronted by military police, the Associated Press reported.
The Islamic State, through its “Wilayat Ghrab Ifriqiyah,” has officially claimed the attack in a statement released online. The statement, which has been translated by the SITE Intelligence Group, said that “[a] knight from the knights of the Caliphate, the martyrdom-seeking brother Abdullah Abu Bakr, launched to strike the police headquarters in the Chadian capital, N’Djamena.” In the same message, the Islamic State also claimed a suicide attack in the Nigerian city of Maiduguri.
This is not the first time that ISWA has struck in N’Djamena. Last month, the group launched a double suicide bombing against police headquarters. Those bombings left 26 people dead and more than 100 others wounded. In a statement released by the Islamic State, the bombers were identified as Abu Hamza al Ansari and Abu Saadiq al Ansari. In response to this attack, Chad launched airstrikes against ISWA positions within Nigeria and banned women from wearing face veils in the country. [See LWJ report, Islamic State in West Africa claims Chad suicide attacks.]
The ISWA has struck in other places in Chad before. Back in February, the jihadist group targeted a village, killing the local police chief and wounding four people. Many residents also reported that the jihadists burned down two-thirds of the village. That assault was seen as a response to Chad’s involvement with Nigeria, Cameroon, and Niger in combating the ISWA in northeastern Nigeria. Chadian troops play an integral role in the coalition.
Last week, ISWA targeted two villages in the Lake Chad region, slitting the throats of 26 civilians. In Merom village, 13 people were killed and several houses were burnt down. Another 13 were killed in a nearby village before the jihadists were turned back by local forces. On the same day, ISWA also attacked a village in Cameroon, which left at least 13 dead.
The Lake Chad region has been a volatile area for Nigeria, Niger, and Chad. In areas near Lake Chad in the Diffa region of Niger, ISWA killed over 30 in assaults on two villages last month. This region was also targeted back in February when IWSA assaulted the town of Bosso. Although the jihadists were able to enter the town, Nigerien military officials said that their forces drove the attackers back, “killing 109.”
It is also thought that more than 200 people, mainly civilians, were killed in attacks in Nigeria by the ISWA last week. A double suicide bombing in the city of Jos killed at least 48 people, while an attack on mosques in northeastern Nigeria killed at least 97 people, many of them children, as they were praying. Earlier this week, 25 people were killed in the central Nigerian city of Zaria after suicide bombers targeted a governmental building. Additionally, a girl thought to be just 12 years old was used as a suicide bomber in Wagir in Yobe state, killing 10 people and wounded dozens more in an attack on a city market.
While a regional force has been deployed to help Nigeria combat the ISWA, the jihadist group retains the ability to both operate and coordinate attacks in northeastern Nigeria. The Nigerian military, alongside regional forces from Chad, Niger, and Cameroon, has been able to recapture several towns and villages that were held by the ISWA, but the group maintains the ability to operate, and controls rural areas in Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa states. [See LWJ report, Boko Haram rolls with the punches, remains a threat.]
Boko Haram officially pledged allegiance to the Islamic State and its leader, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, back in March. The jihadist group started referring to itself as an official “province” of the Islamic State in April.
Photos of the suicide bombers that struck in Chad and Nigeria:
Abdullah Abu Bakr: