- MNJTF Denies, says 200 terrorists killed since operation Yancin Tafki
Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja with agency reports
Terrorist group, Islamic State for West African Province (ISWAP), claimed it killed 13 Nigerian soldiers and five troops from the Multi-national Joint Task Force (MNJTF) in attacks carried out in the past few days.
But in a swift reaction, the MNJTF denied the killing of its soldiers. It said the story was a face-saving measure and a propaganda material by the terrorists in view of the massive onslaught against them which had resulted in the death of over 200 terrorists that triggered defections since the grand military offensive launched by Chad Basin Commission member-countries tagged ‘Operation Yancin Tafki’ started.
ISWAP which split from Boko Haram in 2016, has executed series of attacks in the last few months.
In its newspaper Al-Nabaa, the group said its fighters killed the Nigerians in attacks on a military barracks on Friday, a military post on Sunday, and a town on Monday, all in northeastern Borno State.
Fighters also detonated explosives on Wednesday on a vehicle in the Lake Chad region, killing five more soldiers but did not specify the country.
The militants said the vehicle was carrying troops from a multinational task force comprising troops from Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon set up to fight them.
A Nigerian military spokesman declined comment, and a spokesman for the task force could not immediately be reached.
Boko Haram has waged a decade-long insurgency in North-east Nigeria which has killed around 30,000 people and forced about two million to leave their homes.
A statement issued yesterday by Spokesman of MNJTF, Col. Timothy Antiga, said no such attack or loss of service personnel had taken place.
“The attention of the Multinational Joint Task Force has been drawn to a story published online, claiming that the breakaway faction of Boko Haram terrorists, otherwise known as Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) has killed 18 soldiers in a recent attack within the Area of Operation. The MNJTF wishes to state categorically that no such attack and loss of service personnel has taken place within its area of responsibility.
“The MNJTF wishes to note that the falsehood being orchestrated by the media arm of ISWAP is nothing but a desperate attempt to revamp the parlous and deplorable image of ISWAP following several weeks of devastating operational losses in the Lake Chad Area,” it said.
The statement further noted that “it has been widely reported and it is now common knowledge that sustained offensive actions by MNJTF troops and national forces have resulted in over 200 ISWAP personnel casualties and defections as well as numerous equipment seizures and destruction.
“The claim of killing 18 MNJTF personnel in an unspecified location is therefore very strange and completely untrue. Consequently, the general public is advised to disregard the ISWAP falsehood in its entirety.
“Furthermore, the MNJTF also wishes to draw the attention of the media to the sacred duty it owes the generality of peace loving citizens of the Lake Chad Basin Countries and therefore urges the media to remain vigilant in order to frustrate attempts by terrorists to spread falsehood and propaganda in a bid to disrupt public order, peace and civility”.