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Owo Massacre: Nigeria, now the most targeted country by ISIS

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Between June 1- 6 2022, ISIS has claimed responsibility for at least 10 attacks in Borno, Kogi, Yobe states, leading to increased insecurity in Nigeria’s Northeast and Northcentral.

Nigeria is now arguably the most active hub for the Islamic State (ISIS) military operations worldwide, accounting for 41 per cent of claimed attacks around the globe, new report has revealed.

The Nigerian Army said it successfully neutralized several Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists after a hot pursuit on Monday June 6, along the Maiduguri-Damaturu Road in Goni Masari, with support from the Nigerian Air Force.

“Gallant Troops of 29 Brigade today 6 June 2022 neutralized several BHT/ISWAP Terrorists who blocked Maiduguri-Damaturu Road in Goni Masari. After a hot pursuit, and guidance from the @NigAirForce,” the Army said via twitter.

The face-off comes barely a day after gunmen opened fire on worshippers at a Catholic Church in Owo, Ondo State South West Nigeria, killing at least 50 persons, eyewitnesses have alleged. No group has claimed responsibility for the unprovoked attack and arrests have not been made by the police.

According to analysis by an American terrorism consultant, Evan Kohlmann, the total number of claimed ISIS attacks in Nigeria increased from 47 in February to 56 in March, 2022, making it the most targeted country for ISIS attacks on a month-to-month period,

Examining key trends, statistics, and geographic locations of attacks claimed by ISIS in March 2022, Kohlmann noted that Nigeria led the list of countries most targeted with 41 per cent of all attacks, while Iraq followed with a distant 21 per cent.

Other African countries that have been targets of ISIS attacks include: the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Mali and Mozambique.

“The list of specific locations most frequently targeted in February was topped, for the second month in a row, by the town of Mallamfatori in far northeastern Nigeria (nine per cent), the Nigerian town of Damboa (four per cent), the Nigerian town of Sabon Gari ( four per cent), and the Iraqi town of Daquq (four per cent).

“Ninety-six per cent of claimed ISIS attacks in Nigeria for the period March 2022 were in the country’s northeastern Borno State. Forty-three per cent of claimed ISIS attacks in Nigeria during March 2022 consisted primarily of IED ambushes, making it the most common form of attack,” the terrorism consultant who has worked for the FBI and other governmental organizations noted.

Since the death of Boko Haram terrorist group leader Abubakar Shekau during an invasion by the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), which had pledged allegiance to ISIS in 2015, the later has been consolidating its grip on new rural areas in Nigeria’s central and northeast regions.

Between June 1- 6 2022, ISIS has claimed responsibility for at least 10 attacks in Borno, Kogi, Yobe states, Northeast and Northcentral Nigeria.

These include attacks targeting a Nigerian army post in Goniri, Yobe State and in Marte, Mairi, Fish Dam in Borno State. The group also claimed responsibility for a IED attack targeting a Nigerian army patrol on the road linking the towns of Wajiroko – Damboa and Katafila – Mararaba in Borno State.

ISIS claimed it was behind the bombing of a party for “Christian infidels” near the city of Okene in Kogi state, which allegedly inflicted 20 casualties, and another bomb attack inside a bar in the town of Kabba, which allegedly wounded 12 persons.

This disturbing trend poses a serious threat to security not only in Nigeria, but also neighbouring regions in Chad, Niger and Cameroon.  So far, joint regional military efforts have fallen short of reversing ISIS’ advances.

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