MS Risk Blog

Suspected Boko Haram Militants Attack Chadian Capital

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On Monday, officials in neighboring Chad reported that at least 23 people have been killed and more than 100 injured in suicide attacks carried out in the capital N’Djamena.

Eyewitnesses reported that attackers on motorcycles blew themselves up outside two police buildings. According to witnesses, one of the bombers on a motorcycle blew himself up after security officers fired at him outside a building where the national police chief is based while the second explosion went off at the headquarters of the national police academy.

The Chadian government has blamed the attacks on Nigerian-based Boko Haram, however the militant group has not commented. Hours after the attack, Communications Minister Hassan Sylla Bakara stated that Boko Haram had “made a mistake targeting Chad,” and that the group would be “neutralized.” The Communications Minister condemned the “appalling and barbaric attack,” stating that it “would not diminish Chad’s determination and commitment to fighting terrorism.” The minister added that all four of the attackers had been killed. On the ground sources have reported that in the wake of the attack, large numbers of troops have been deployed on the streets of the capital and a ban has been imposed on cards with tinted windows.

Chadian forces have played a key role in not only helping Nigeria battle Boko Haram, but also in the fight against other jihadist groups in the region. The Central African nation has been a long-standing adversary of jihadists, with the country’s president Idriss Deby Itno committing troops to combating militants in the region. They first joined French forces in 2013 to counter the advance of jihadists who had occupied the northern regions of Mali the previous year. In August 2014, France reorganized its military presence in the region by launching Operation Barkhane, which aims to fighting terrorism in Africa’s Sahel region. The force is headquartered in the Chadian capital, where France already has a large military base. In February this year, Chad launched a ground offensive in neighboring Nigeria, effectively leading the fight against the militant group. According to military sources, Chad has committed around 5,000 soldiers to this operation. N’Djamena will also host the headquarters of the joint military force that was created on 11 June by Chad, Cameroon, Benin, Niger and Nigeria against Boko Haram.

While the group has never targeted N’Djamena before, this attack should not come as a huge surprise, given the country’s role in fighting the insurgency. Boko Haram has previously criticized and taunted Chadian President Idriss Deby in its videos. In a statement United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the bombings and praised Chad’s “courageous role” in fighting Boko Haram.

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