At 3:30pm on the 7th of July, Organised Armed Group (OAG) operatives aboard several Heavy Machine Gun (HMG)-mounted light trucks shot and killed at least 14 civilians and set two churches on fire In Dabnna village, Hong LGA, Adamawa state.
They also looted foodstuff and valuables before withdrawing. Reportedly, the operatives actively searched for Christian residents during the attack. On 8 July, the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) claimed the incident via Amaq as an attack against the Christian community.
The title incident marks the first ISWAP-perpetrated attack in Dabna and the second in the entire Hong LGA since April 2021.
This followed a prolonged lull in OAG attacks in the area since 2018. There was a very similar attack recorded in Hong LGA on April 9, 2021, in Kopre, during which ISWAP operatives raided residences belonging to Christians, shot and killed 10 civilians and abducted three others. They also set on fire churches, private residences and public facilities.
The attack is consistent with a well-established trend of ISWAP attacks targeting Christian communities and churches. This trend can be traced back to 14 April 2019, when ISWAP burned down houses in the predominantly Christian village of Korogilum. The group later claimed via an-Naba’ this attack as revenge for the alleged crimes committed against Muslims in Plateau state.
This trend later intensified during the Islamic State (IS)’ global campaign between 21 and 26 December 2019 to avenge the killing of the former IS leader, Abubakar al-Baghdadi with different attacks against Christian villages across southern Borno, in Chibok, Askira/Uba and Biu LGAs.
From September 2019 onwards, ISWAP operatives started checking identification papers at informal vehicle checkpoints, specifically looking for Christians and Government Forces (GF) members. These attacks are typically taking place in southern Borno, where Christian villages are predominant in some areas, from ISWAP’s stronghold in the Alagarno forest.
The first ISWAP attack against a Christian community in Adamawa state took place in Garkida, Gombi LGA, on 21 February 2020. More recently, three similar attacks between February and November 2020 in Chibok LGA were registered.
Additionally, other attacks occurred on 18 February 2021, in Korogilum, on 1 November 2020, in Takulashi and on 16 November, in Nchiha Yusuf. During those instances, ISWAP deliberately killed Christian civilians and targeted Christian worship venues by setting a number of them ablaze.
In addition to attacking villages, ISWAP operatives also have constantly targeted Christian’s civilians along the roads during Vehicle Checkpoints (VCPs) events, as in several instances they identified Christian profiles, subsequently abducted them.
The attack, the first of its kind since ISWAP’s change in leadership, highlights that the new leadership has not changed its policy towards Christian villages.
Given the proximity of southern Borno and northern Adamawa to ISWAP’s newly consolidated territory in the Sambisa Forest and the freedom of movement that the group is currently enjoying in the general area, there is a high probability that ISWAP will upscale its campaign against Christian villages.