ISIS rejoices at epidemic, an offshoot group kills 70 Nigerian soldiers
LONDON--The Islamic State (ISIS) described the coronavirus outbreak as “punishment” by God against “unbelievers” while an offshoot faction was suspected of an attack that killed scores of soldiers in Nigeria.
At least 70 Nigerian soldiers died in an ambush by jihadists in north-eastern Nigeria, Nigerian military and security sources said. Rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) were fired March 23 at a lorry carrying troops near Gorgi village in Borno state.
“It was a huge loss, at least 70 soldiers have perished in the ambush,” a Nigerian officer told Agence France-Presse.
“The terrorists specifically targeted a truck loaded with soldiers with RPGs and incinerated the vehicle, killing all on board. So far, 70 bodies have been recovered but the toll is certainly more than that as rescue operation is still under way,” a second officer said.
Several soldiers were injured and some were taken captive by the jihadists, the officers said.
The convoy left Maiduguri to attack a camp belonging to jihadists affiliated with the Islamic State (ISIS), a member of a government-backed militia fighting the insurgents said.
The Islamic State West Africa Province, an ISIS offshoot, was suspected of attacking the Nigerian soldiers. The militant faction split from Boko Haram in 2016 and has focused on attacking troops, raiding bases and ambushing military convoys.
The group has also been accused of attacks on civilians and taking hostages at bogus checkpoints on main roads.
The decade-long conflict in the Sahel has killed 36,000 people and displaced 1.8 million in north-eastern Nigeria.
Fighting has spilt into neighbouring countries, prompting the formation of a regional military coalition to fight the insurgents.
In an article on its propaganda platform al-Naba, ISIS rejoiced at the suffering of “non-believers” because of coronavirus and said it “asks Allah to increase their torment and save believers from all that.”
“Indeed, Allah is harsh of punishment against the one who rebels against Him and merciful to the one who obeys Him and stands with Him,” the article stated
ISIS said the “plague” forced the “crusader nations” to retreat.
“The Muslims should not pity the disbelievers and apostates but should use the current opportunities to continue working to free Muslim prisoners from the camps in which they face subjugation and disease,” al-Naba said.
(With news agencies.)