Suicide bombers attacked Chad’s capital, N’Djamena, on Monday, targeting a police training facility and leaving dozens dead. It is the first such attack of its kind on the Chadian capital, and the Boko Haram terror group is the prime suspect in orchestrating the attack, though no group has officially taken credit for the killings.
At least 23 people have been killed in the attack, reports The Washington Post, though other outlets like Reuters have placed the death toll at around 27. Al Jazeera estimated the death toll as up to 40 people. The Washington Post notes that the disparate death tolls are due to two different statements, the lower toll from the Chadian information minister, and the other from a government spokesman.
Chad’s president, Idriss Deby, is currently in South Africa attending the Africa Unity Summit but is expected to return to Chad shortly to handle the situation.
Reuters adds that up to 100 others were injured in the attack. Reportedly, only some of the bombs were triggered by suicide bombers, with Al Jazeera clarifying that the attackers executed twin attacks, one on a police academy and the other on a police office building. “Boko Haram is making a mistake by targeting Chad,” Communications Minister Hassan Sylla Bakari is quoted as having stated following the attacks, “These lawless terrorists will be chased out and neutralized wherever they are.”
Chad has been an active partner with Nigeria in fighting the jihadist terror group Boko Haram, which has since aligned itself with the Islamic State and renamed itself the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP). The nation has lost more than 70 soldiers fighting the jihadist group, in addition to victims of terrorist violence on the border with Nigeria and near Lake Chad. Chad officially joined Nigeria in fighting Boko Haram in January, when President Deby proclaimed that his nation “can’t remain indifferent to what is happening to our neighbors” after Boko Haram attacked neighboring Cameroon, where they are also believed to operate. By February, Boko Haram was attacking Chadian territory on the border, intending to dissuade the government from investing in their demise.
In addition to now being targeted by the group, President Deby has publicly reprimanded the government of Nigeria for being insufficiently cooperative with his troops. “It is regrettable that the two armies, that is the Nigerian army and the Chadian Army, are working separately in the field. … If they were operating jointly, they would have achieved more results,” he said in May, during the tenure of now former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Nigeria has since elected a new president, Muhammadu Buhari, who has vowed to revolutionize the way Nigeria approaches Boko Haram. His first move while in office, announced during his inauguration, was to move the nation’s military headquarters out of the capital, Abuja, and relocate it to Maiduguri, in northeast Nigeria and at the heart of the Boko Haram terrorist insurgency.
This week, Buhari directed $21 million to the Multinational Joint Task Force, a military group consisting of soldiers from all the neighboring countries that have vowed to fight Boko Haram, including Chad, Cameroon, and Niger. Nigeria had previously promised to invest $100 million in the group, but only now did its government directly invest the cash into the coalition.
“The destructive effects of the inhuman and criminal campaigns of the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria and neighbouring countries; the Al-Shabab attacks in East Africa, and the activities of the Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb, all bear testimony to a continent under siege,” Buhari stated in a speech this week to other African leaders, urging cooperation continent-wide.