According to a Chadian security source, a triple suicide bombing on an island in Lake Chad on Saturday killed at least 27 people and left more than eighty wounded in what is another apparent strike carried out by Boko Haram fighters despite an ongoing regional offensive to stop the insurgency.
The source has reported that “three suicide bombers blew themselves up in three different places at the weekly market on Loulou Fou, an Island in Lake Chad,” adding that the explosions had killed 30 people, including the three attackers, and injured more than eighty others. On 9 November, N’Djamena declared a state of emergency in the flashpoint region of Lake Chad, which also straddles Cameroon, Nigeria and Niger and which has been frequently targeted by Nigerian-based Boko Haram fighters, who this year declared allegiance to the so-called Islamic State (IS) group. The decree effectively granted the governor of the remote region the authority to ban the circulation of people and vehicles as well as to search homes and to seize arms. In a statement, the European Union (EU) disclosed that Saturday’s attacks were “a threat to the stability of the country and the region.” The bloc further indicated that it stood ready to “use all available means to help in the fighting against terrorism” in the region. WeDespite the state of emergency in the region, attacks have continued and have proven Boko Haram’s continued desire to carry out deadly attacks despite loosing territory in northeastern Nigeria. In recent months, Boko Haram fighters have stepped up their attacks and suicide bombings on Chadian villages in the lake region that lie close to the frontier with Nigeria. The deadliest attack on the Chadian side of the lake occurred on 10 October. According to officials in N’Djamena, it was another triple suicide that resulted in the deaths of 41 people at Baga Sola. Since the beginning of this year, the Chadian army has been on the frontline of a regional military operation against Boko Haram, whose attacks have spread from northeastern Nigeria to the country’s three Lake Chad neighbors. The joint operation of the four Lake Chad countries, plus Benin, has involved 8,700 soldiers, police and civilians.
The Chadian government announced on Monday that officials have declared a state of emergency in the Lake Chad region in the wake of a series of raids and suicide bombings in the area carried out by Boko Haram insurgents.
According to Chad’s Communications Minister Hassan Sylla Bakari, the order, which will come into effect immediately, will grant authorities new powers to search and monitor residents in the region.
While Chad has been instrumental in forcing Boko Haram earlier this year to cede territory in northeastern Nigeria, which effectively undermined the militant group’s six-year campaign to carve out a Nigerian caliphate, ongoing military operations have forced insurgents out of their strongholds and into the border regions around Lake Chad, where they have continued to launch deadly raids and attacks. On Sunday, at least three people were killed in a Chadian village while three Nigerian refugees were killed on Monday in northern Cameroon.
Chad has not implemented a state of emergency since a series of rebellions in the 2000s, which sprang from its volatile east. Neighbouring Niger has also implemented a three-month state of emergency in its border region of Diffa, which in recent months has also been impacted by Boko Haram violence.
On Monday, five Chadian police officers and six Islamists were killed after suspected Boko Haram militants blew themselves up during a police raid on a safe house in the capital, N’Djamena.
Residents in the capital city reported the first explosion in the Dinguesso neighborhood of N’Djamena, with the second blast occurring minutes later. According to Interior Minister Abderahim Bireme Hamid, the blasts struck after security forces arrested the alleged “brain” behind Boko Haram operations in Chad and in neighboring northern Cameroon. Bireme Hamid disclosed that police found “a lot of documents” and during questioning, one of those held revealed where the group made homemade bombs. In a follow-up search, three suicide vests were also found. The minister reported that as soon as the door of the house was opened “and they saw one of their arrested members, the five Boko Haram blew themselves up…We regret to day that five officers died. And after a search we found the body of another Boko Haram member,” adding that three more police officers sustained injuries in the attack. The latest attack follows the 15 June double suicide bombing, which has been blamed on the Nigerian-based militants. That attack killed at least 33 people in N’Djamena, in what is the deadliest attack to occur in the city.
Earlier on Monday, officials in Chad arrested 60 people in relation to an attack that occurred earlier this month in the capital city. Chad’s chief prosecutor announced “the dismantling (of a Boko Haram cell) and the arrest of 60 people” as part of an inquiry into the suicide bombings that occurred last week. According to prosecutor Alghassim Khamis, “a terrorist cell was identified and taken down. Sixty people were detained,” including Nigerians, Chadians, Cameroonians and Malians. Khamis further disclosed that one of three people behind the 15 June attacks – all of whom were killed by security forces – had been positively identified, while the identify of the two others was being checked, adding “the debris left by the suicide bombers enabled us to determine that the terrorists were wearing specially-made explosive vests in black fabric… Fragments (of the bombs) collected at the scenes of the attacks are identical.” Khamis further disclosed that “the toll for this double attack is 38 dead today, including the three suicide bombers, and 81 wounded and released and 20 wounded still admitted to the hospital,” adding that one person remains in serious condition. Khamis has indicated that “the information received shows that this attack was well planned.”