June 2015- Target Maiduguri
As can be seen the period from March to April 2015 featured a Nigerian offensive which pushed Boko Haram away from Maiduguri and isolated Boko Haram from further westward progression has lost momentum, giving Boko Haram the opportunity in April to begin contesting the battlespace once more with a particular focus on Maiduguri in the centre of the Area of Operations (AO) with complex attacks and IEDs. However just as important were enemy actions to north, east and south of the AO.
Centre of the AO
Maiduguri: Nigerian authorities began the process of setting up a Military Command and Control Centre in the city and Maj Gen TY Buratai was appointed Commander MNJTF. For the enemy the month began around 3.30pm on the 2nd of June with a repeat of 30th May PBIED attack on Kasuwar Shanu Cattle Market in the northwest of the city killing 21 and wounding 24, that night the enemy bombarded Maiduguri’s outskirts with indirect fire and launched a dismounted attack but were defeated by friendly air and ground forces. The next day an IED detonated to the southeast of the city on Baga Road opposite the Sector One Military Base and NNPC Mega Station killing 7 and wounding 8, another IED detonated at the Baga Road Fish Market opposite the Ibrahim Taiwo Divisional Police Station, Bolori around 5.15pm in the northwest of the city, killing 14 and wounding 19. On 4th June gunmen attacked Shetimari, Gajigana LGA, north of Maiduguri with 2 x PBIEDs followed by foot soldiers with small arms, IEDs and RPGs the attack was defeated and 12 rifles and 1 machine gun captured. On the 5th a VBIED detonated at a checkpoint in the northwest of the city in Shagari Low Cost Housing Estate near Maimalari Cantonment on Maiduguri- Monguno Road. An IED detonated in Tungushe, Jere LGA wounding 2 at 9.30am on 6th June. On 9th June 3 suspected female PBIEDs were killed by an explosion in Konduga LGA as they attempted to travel to Maiduguri. The city received a week’s reprieve until the 22nd when 2 female PBIEDs again attacked Baga Road Fish Market, the first approached a mosque and detonated, killing 30 people while the other fled and then detonated killing only herself. A week later on the 27th, 3 males attempted to attack the General Hospital in Molai, Konduga LGA around 4.00pm, 1 detonated after he was searched and turned away, killing himself, an accomplice and 3 others and wounding 12, the third was captured.
Damboa-Biu Sector: On 8th June Gunmen attacked Huyum in Askira Uba LGA south east of Damboa and east of Gulak at 12 midnight killing 15 and wounding 3 and burning the village in a 4 hour attack. On 9th June gunmen mounted on motorcycles struck villages a few kilometres south west of Damboa Town, attacking Matangale, around 4.00pm killing 16 people at a well and then Buraltima and Dirmanti Villages killing 27 more people, burning and looting the villages, a counter attack by troops supported by local hunters pursued them as far as Sambisa Forest recovering a truck and some motorcycles. The next day gunmen on motorcycles and pick up trucks attacked Koshifa, Almeri, Burmari and then Matangale, Buraltima and Darmanti again killing up to 37 people and burning and looting the villages. On the 13th a male PBIED on a bicycle detonated in Ba’ale Village to the south east of the city at 6.00pm killing 3 vigilantes and wounding 4. On the 22nd Gunmen mounted on motorcycles and pickup trucks attacked Debiro (which straddles Biu and Hawul LGA) east of Biu Town around 12.30am killing 22 people, burning the village and looting it. They attacked it again the next day killing 17 and wounding 20 more
Northwest of the AO
Damaturu-Biu Sector: A female PBIED detonated in a Grain Market in Gujba, Gujba LGA, Yobe State on 23rd June killing 10 and wounding 20
Northeast of the AO
Marte-Mafa-Ngala Sector: A female PBIED detonated at a VCP on Baga- Monguno
Road killing 3 and wounding 4 on 6th June, the same day gunmen attacked Boboshe, Dikwa LGA (south of Mafa) but were repelled with heavy enemy losses. On the 8th gunmen on motorcycles stole phones and recharge cards in Blame, Logone et Chari Department, Cameroun (east of Kala Balge LGA on the Nigeria/ Cameroun border) a hot pursuit by BIR led to 2 Camerounian soldiers killed and 20 wounded by an IED in Bodo. On the 11th, motorcycle and vehicles mounted gunmen raided Dabanga on the Nigeria/ Cameroun border east of Dikwa stealing 3 trucks of foodstuff and abducting several people. The same day Camerounian forces unsuccessfully attempted to interdict fuel smugglers in the vicinity of Goulfey, Logone et Chari Department on the Chad/ Cameroun border. The next day 4 vehicles were hijacked in the vicinity of Gassama, of which 3 were eventually abandoned, gunmen attacked a vehicle in the vicinity of Michitire between Dabanga and Waza on the 24th. Chadian soldiers raided Gamboru Ngala from Fotokol detaining several suspected Boko Haram members. Camerounian and Chadian forces with Chadian air and Camerounian artillery support raided Sigal and Kreta in Kale Balge LGA, Borno State.
On the 30th June gunmen attacked 4 villages around Monguno. Kabal Ibrahim and Mangal Villages to the east of the town were attacked with 8 killed as well as Mussaram 1 & 2 with 48 selected and massacred and 17 wounded.
South of the AO
Yola-Jimeta Sector: The enemy started the month in Jimeta as they ended it with gunmen attacking Jimeta Main Market again on the 1st of June killing 2 and wounding 2. 3 days later 2 male PBIEDs detonated near Zenith Bank in Gambo Jimeta Main Market around 7.45pm killing up to 32 people and wounding 40, using a mock fight as a ruse to draw a large crowd
Far North of AO
Diffa Region-Lake Chad: Nigerien forces conducted a 5 day clearance operations from the 18th to the 23rd in Diffa Region killing 5 enemy, taking 20 prisoners; destroying an armoured vehicle, 26 motorcycles and 2 food or fuel caches. On the 23rd gunmen mounted on horses and motorcycles raided Yebi north of Bosso, Diffa Region, Niger Republic killing 5 people and burning the village
N’Djamena: On 29th June, in a series of intelligence led raids, Chadian forces arrested a suspected Boko Haram commander Baana Fanaye (aka Mahamat Moustapha) and 2 others in N’djamena, raided a building in Ndjair, 8th Arrondissement, N’djamena, in which the occupants detonated an IED killing 6 suspects and 5 policemen, recovering PBIED belts, SIM cards and documents and detained 4 people, including a woman and child. In another raid on house in Diguel, 7 more people were arrested
The period May-June 2015 saw waves of attacks on Maiduguri at periodic intervals, first conventional attacks on 13th May and again 2 weeks later, followed by 2 weeks of IED attacks, a break of 2 weeks and then another week of IED attacks.
What was also interesting were the directions of the enemy attacks also varied, from the initial attacks after the recapture of Gwoza came from the west. Then from Konduga/ Sambisa Forest to the south east and then as enemy forces consolidated to the north of the city in early June, attacks alternated from that direction and the south.
The scale and duration of the enemy conventional attacks on Maiduguri indicates they
were raids rather than deliberate attacks to capture the city, the effects were limited as the defensive berm around Maiduguri served its purpose of channelling and fixing the enemy preventing them from penetrating deep into the city during their attacks.
Having failed to cut the Potiskum-Damaturu-Maiduguri Road, the enemy launched a series of counter attacks from Sambisa Forest area to the south west around Damboa-Biu using small arms attacks and IEDs and to the south east on the Maiduguri-Konduga-Bama axis.
By the end of the month, Maiduguri had received IED attacks from the North, south east and southwest and conventional attacks from the south with virtually all roads leading to the city insecure and subject to enemy attacks.
Four other interesting factors can be observed from June 2015. In Adamawa State, the
enemy conducted a strategic campaign against Jimeta a town north of / suburb of Yola on the west bank of the Benue River, which contains Yola Airport home to the NAF’s Alphajets of 75 Strike Group as well as Agusta recce/ light strike helicopters, ATR 42 ISR aircraft and is a major logistic hub controlled by 12 Logistic Wing. It is thus a high value target. Enemy operations however targeted civilian areas in the city and interestingly a bank manager at the airport, it what can be seen as shaping operations around the base.
Following the fighting for Damasak, Abadam and Mallam Fatori and the evacuation of the Lake Chad islands, Chadian and Nigerien forces mostly remained static, conducting raids into Gamboru Ngala and clearance operations around Bosso, Diffa Region provoking an enemy counter strike north of Bosso. Whilst this contest resulted in some losses for Boko Haram, the fighting kept Nigerien and Chadian attention away from the Lake Chad and enemy supply lines in that area.
The third area of interest was the Route Nationale 1 Highway running north-south along the Nigeria/ Cameroun border between Waza and Fotokol. The area just over the border from enemy concentrations in Kala Balge LGA, Borno State became increasingly insecure and subject to raids, ambushes and attacks, with the enemy seemingly keen to sustain themselves through theft and abduction from this area, deny it to Camerounian forces and attempt to recreate the conditions they had on the Nigerian side of the border. It was unclear if they had learnt the lessons of their scorched earth tactics in Nigeria, which directly led to the need to violently resupply food and personnel from Cameroun but the thrust of the campaign was increasingly clear. When viewed in conjunction with enemy operations around Mafa and Dikwa, it could be argued that the enemy was well positioned to isolate Gamboru Ngala and Baga from Nigerian forces to the west and Fotokol to Chadian and Camerounian forces to the east.
The 4th factor was the appointment of Maj Gen TY Buratai as commander MNJTF and the setting up of the MCCC, the beginning of organisational changes promised by President Buhari at his inauguration.
Taking into account the increased isolation of Maiduguri from the south and northeast, enemy presence and expansion eastwards along the Gamboru-Dikwa axis and the enemies strong presence to the north around Lake Chad, combined with the strategic IED and small arms attacks on Maiduguri, Jimeta and Damaturu it could be argued that by the end of June 2015, the enemy had regained the initiative.