According to multiple sources familiar with the strategy and tactics of the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), the group has systematically started a blockade of Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, Northeast Nigeria.
The plan, HumAngle gathered, is to deny residents electricity, fuel, and other supplies by targeting electricity installations and laying siege on all roads leading to the embattled city.
Although Maiduguri is encircled by trenches and military outposts designed to protect it from infiltration and attacks, Boko Haram and ISWAP have used various tactics to carry out attacks in and around the city.
ISWAP’s long-term objectives, as HumAngle learned, is to replicate years of blockade that factions of the terrorist group were subjected to by the military of the four Lake Chad countries that constitute the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF).
Hours after residents of Maiduguri celebrated electricity restoration to the capital city in March, following almost two months of blackout, ISWAP threw the city back to darkness using explosives to target the electricity transmission line along Maiduguri-Damaturu road.
At least five electricity workers sustained injuries in February after their vehicle stepped on an IED planted by ISWAP while reconnecting the transmission line to the national power grid.
The group uses checkpoints to screen, abduct and kill commuters, and they are also staging ambushes on military units along routes such as the Damaturu-Maiduguri, Maiduguri-Monguno, Maiduguri-Damboa and Maiduguri-Dikwa roads.
The audacious multi-pronged attack targeted at a military convoy and a base in the Mainok area along the Maiduguri-Damaturu has raised concerns about a possible escalation of attacks on the major route into Maiduguri.
The insurgents who staged the attack and overran the army base came in multiple gun trucks and Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles (MRAPs) captured from the Nigerian military.
In Feb. 2019, ISWAP fired grad rockets into Maiduguri, but these did not cause havoc when compared to the mortar volleys and fabricated missiles fired into the city on Feb. 23 by Boko Haram, which resulted in the death of at least 15 persons and injuring dozens of others across several locations.
It’s unclear whether ISWAP still has stockpiles of grad rockets captured from Nigerian Army units.
Since the ouster of Boko Haram from Maiduguri after the 2009 uprising and the subsequent wave of assassinations and battles in the city, Boko Haram and its splinter faction, ISWAP, have over the years adopted this range of tactics to terrorise inhabitants.
More than 37,000 people have been killed and the decade-long insurgency that has displaced millions.