DAMASCUS, SYRIA (7:00 P.M.) – The official Al-Qaeda branch in West Africa, a franchise group known as ‘Support of Islam and Muslims’ (JNIM), has conducted its first attack against the Nigerian Armed Forces, claiming it to be an act of retaliation.
JNIM, which operates almost exclusively in Mali, said it had conducted the rare raid on June 5, targeting a Nigerian military camp in Tsawah, Medal. This frontier village lies in western Niger, not far from the eastern border of Mali.
The Al-Qaeda affiliate said over a dozen Nigerian soldiers were killed in the cross-border attack which saw the army barracks overwhelmed and a handful of military vehicles torched. With other troops fleeing the military outpost, JNIM seized anti-aircraft guns, rocket launchers along with plenty of ammunition and light armaments. The militants later abandoned the site.
More images of the aforementioned Al-Qaeda raid:
In early March 2017, three extremist factions based in Mali (Ansar Dine, Al-Mourabitoun and Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb) announced that they had merged into one group and pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda’s leader. The newly formed jihadist coalition is led by Iyad Ag Ghaly, a native of the Kidal region.
Islamic extremists linked to Al-Qaida took over northern Mali in 2012, exploiting a power vacuum after mutinous soldiers overthrew the president. French-backed forces pushed the extremists from strongholds the following year, but attacks have continued and progressed south.
The Nigerian Army since got involved in the battle for Mali, operating side-by-side with a French coalition to defeat Al-Qaeda, although it is also fighting the ISIS-linked Boko Haram at home.
In somewhat related news, Al-Shaabab (Somali jihadist group) released a rare propaganda video: