Boko Haram launches new attack in Chad, highlights faults in opposing coalition

Boko Haram furthered its reign of terror in Chad over the weekend when a suicide bomber detonated himself in N’Djamena, Chad’s capital. The blast killed 15 people, and injured over 80 Chadians. Several witnesses say the bomber was clad in a traditional woman’s burqa. Last month, the Chadian government banned the burqa because militants have utilized such articles to conceal weapons including suicide bombs. Following this past weekend’s attack, Chadian police forces have announced they will more heavily enforce the ban.

This attack follows two bombings on June 15th , which killed 38 and injured over 100, the first of its kind following Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau’s open threats against Chad.

Four days before the June 15th attack, leaders form Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon announced a coalition, based out of N’Djamena, in order to fight Boko Haram. The coalition has received assistance from France in the form of military assistance to Cameroon, and air strikes out of France’s airbase in N’Djamena. Furthermore, the US has pledged $5 million in assistance to the African coalition.

The coalition, led by 5,000 Chadian soldiers, has claimed to have killed hundreds of Boko Haram militants. The Nigerians have also claimed responsibility for the success, following the military offensive against Boko Haram.  Although seeing much success in the Sambisa Forest, which housed ten Boko Haram camps, the Chadians have been openly critical of the Nigerian’s unwillingness to fight. The Nigerian military has been struggling to improve its reputation, with newly elected President Muhammadu Buhari claiming that he intends to  rid the military of corruption. On Monday, Buhari relieved various military leaders, including the heads of the army and the navy.

Tens of thousands of Nigerians have sought refuge in Chad, and local government officials in Chad have banned travel through Lake Chad because Boko Haram militants have used that route to enter Chad through Nigeria. The latest deadly attack proves that despite the coalition’s supposed success against Boko Haram, the militants continue to have no intention of surrendering or stopping its terrorist activities in northern Africa. Chad had the right idea in banning the burqa in order to enhance its security measures against Boko Haram’s tactic of utilizing females, or bombers dressed as females to carry out suicide attacks. However, in order for such enhanced measures to be successful, they must be enforced.

Moving forward, the Chadian military must remain the leading force in the coalition against Boko Haram. It is likely Boko Haram will continue to stage attacks in Chad, as the jihadists recognize Chad’s strength and will attempt to deter their involvement in the coalition. With that said however, the African coalition will struggle to effectively defeat Boko Haram if the Nigerian military cannot overcome its past struggles. As shown in attacks in Maiduguri, the birthplace of Boko Haram, the jihadist militants are still deeply rooted in the nation and cannot be countered elsewhere unless their main operations in Nigeria are cut off.