Three Nigerian soldiers killed in militant attack

Nigerian soldiers patrol the village of Tungushe after fighters from the Islamic State West Africa raided the on October 12, 2019. (AFP)
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Updated 03 February 2020

Three Nigerian soldiers killed in militant attack

  • Fighters from the Islamic State West Africa Province stormed into the town of Askira late Friday
  • ‘Our men repelled the terrorists but we lost three soldiers and two trucks’

KANO, Nigeria: Daesh-affiliated militants have killed three Nigerian soldiers and seized two military vehicles in an attack in violence-wracked northeastern Borno state, security sources and residents said Monday.
Fighters from the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), stormed into the town of Askira late Friday in a dozen pickup trucks fitted with machine guns, leading to clashes with troops and local vigilantes.
“Our men repelled the terrorists but we lost three soldiers and two trucks,” a military officer said adding that the insurgents suffered “heavy casualties,” without giving a toll.
Vigilante Adamu Galadima said an ambush was laid for the militants following information they were heading to the town.
“It was an intense fight and they were forced to withdraw. Three soldiers were killed and five residents were injured by stray bullets,” he said.
Another vigilante, Peter Malgwui, said the retreating militants raided Kilangar village, 15 kilometers (10 miles) away, looting drugs from a clinic and burning it.
On Sunday, ISWAP released a statement claiming it killed seven Nigerian troops and seized three vehicles in the Askira attack.
ISWAP, which split from the Boko Haram militant group in 2016, has focused on targeting military installations and troops since mid-2018.
Askira Uba district, which lies near Boko Haram’s Sambisa forest stronghold, has witnessed repeated militant attacks.
The decade-long violence has killed 36,000 people in the northeast and displaced around two million from their homes, creating a dire humanitarian crisis.
The conflict has spread to neighboring Niger, Chad and Cameroon, prompting a regional military response to combat the militant groups.


‘Political reconciliation’ with Pakistan top priority: Afghan envoy Daudzai

Updated 17 min 57 sec ago

‘Political reconciliation’ with Pakistan top priority: Afghan envoy Daudzai

  • Pakistan played positive role in US-Taliban peace talks, says diplomat

PESHAWAR: Afghanistan’s newly appointed special envoy for Pakistan has had put “mending political relations” between the two estranged nations as one of his top priorities.

Mohammed Umer Daudzai, on Tuesday said that his primary focus would be to ensure lasting peace in Afghanistan and maintain strong ties with Pakistan, especially after Islamabad’s key role in the Afghan peace process earlier this year.

In an exclusive interview, the diplomat told Arab News: “Two areas have been identified to focus on with renewed vigor, such as lasting peace in Afghanistan and cementing Pak-Afghan bilateral ties in economic, social, political and other areas.”

In order to achieve these aims, he said, efforts would be intensified “to mend political relations” between the neighboring countries.

Pakistan and Afghanistan share a 2,600-kilometer porous border and have been at odds for years. Bonds between them have been particularly strained due to a deep mistrust and allegations of cross-border infiltration by militants.

Kabul has blamed Islamabad for harboring Taliban leaders after they were ousted from power in 2001. But Pakistan has denied the allegations and, instead, accused Kabul of providing refuge to anti-Pakistan militants – a claim rejected by Afghanistan.

Daudzai said his immediate priority would be to focus on “political reconciliation” between the two countries, especially in the backdrop of a historic peace agreement signed in February this year when Pakistan played a crucial role in facilitating a troop withdrawal deal between the US and the Taliban to end the decades-old Afghan conflict. “Afghanistan needs political reconciliation which the Afghan government has already been working on to achieve bottom-up harmony,” he added.

Daudzai’s appointment Monday by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani took place days after Islamabad chose Mohammed Sadiq as Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s special representative for Afghanistan.

Reiterating the need to maintain strong bilateral ties with all of its neighbors, Daudzai said Pakistan’s role was of paramount importance to Afghanistan.

“Pakistan has a positive role in the US-Taliban peace talks, and now Islamabad could play a highly significant role in the imminent intra-Afghan talks. I will explore all options for a level-playing field for the success of all these initiatives,” he said, referring in part to crucial peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban which were delayed due to a stalemate in a prisoner exchange program – a key condition of the Feb. 29 peace deal.

Under the agreement, up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners and around 1,000 government prisoners were to be freed by March 10. So far, Afghanistan has released 3,000 prisoners, while the Taliban have freed 500. Daudzai said that while dates had yet to be finalized, the intra-Afghan dialogue could begin “within weeks.”

He added: “A date for intra-Afghan talks hasn’t been identified yet because there is a stalemate on prisoners’ release. But I am sure they (the talks) will be kicked off within weeks.”

Experts say Daudzai’s appointment could give “fresh momentum” to the stalled process and revitalize ties between the two estranged neighbors.

“Mohammed Sadiq’s appointment...could lead Kabul-Islamabad to a close liaison and better coordination,” Irfanullah Khan, an MPhil scholar and expert on Afghan affairs, told Arab News.

Daudzai said that he would be visiting Islamabad to kickstart the process as soon as the coronavirus disease-related travel restrictions were eased.

Prior to being appointed as the special envoy, he had served as Afghanistan’s ambassador to Pakistan from April 2011 to August 2013.

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