Islamists Kill Nigerian Soldiers Heading to Mali

Nigerian soldiers
Nigerian soldiers

An Islamist group blamed for abducting Westerners has claimed responsibility for a a 19 January attack on Nigerian troops heading to Mali yesterday, according to the local Desert Herald, which often publishes their claims.

Suspected Islamists gunmen detonated a remote-controlled IED [Improvised Explosive Device] they planted by the roadside as the military convoy was passing and opened fire on the soldiers leaving northern Nigeria for deployment in Mali, killing two officers and wounding eight others.

The statement in the online newspaper said the attack was part of a mission to stop Nigerian troops joining Western powers in their ‘aim to demolish the Islamic empire of Mali.’

On 20 January the Islamist group, whose full name Jama’atu Ansarul Musilimina Fi Biladis Sudan (JAMBS)means “Vanguards for the Protection of Muslims in Black Africa,” claimed responsibility for the attack, which it said was in response to Nigeria’s participation in the military intervention in Mali.

“We are warning the African countries to stop helping Western countries in fighting against Islam and Muslims or face the utmost difficulties,” said a statement by the group,

Dubbed a terrorist organization by Britain, JAMBS has claimed responsibility for the 19 December 2012 kidnapping of a French engineer near the northern city of Katsina on the border with Niger, citing France’s ban on full-face veils and its support for military action in Mali as reasons for the abduction.

Thought to be a breakaway faction from Islamists sect Boko Haram, it has risen to greater prominence over the past few months and is believed by some to have close ties to Islamist groups in North Africa and Mali. Unlike Boko Haram, it seems to have a much more thorough focus on global jihad, rather than a domestic political agenda.

Nigeria plans to send 1,200 troops to Mali as part of a 5,500-strong African-led International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA) to oust Islamist groups from the north.

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