Blasts from three suicide bombers on Saturday shook Koulfoua, a Chadian island in Lake Chad, killing around 30 people and leaving 80 more injured, security sources told Reuters. The sources said the attacks occurred on a day when many people gather at a public market on the island.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks yet, but the area has seen a recent spate of terror attacks by Boko Haram. Thousands of refugees fled violence caused by the militant group and sought Koulfoua as a safe harbor earlier this year.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNHCR) estimates that more than 2.5 million people across the four nations of the Lake Chad region — Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad — have been made homeless by Boko Haram. This week, the UNHCR said that 50,000 internally displaced people have arrived in the western region of Lake Chad and its islands since late July.
Recent attacks around the banks of the lake and its islands seem to suggest that violence is catching up with those trying to escape it. Last month, Chad's national assembly voted to unanimously extend the state of emergency in the western Lake Chad region by four months, after a double attack by Boko Haram militants left 12 people dead. The initial emergency was established on November 9, and was intended to last for just 12 days.
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Earlier this year, Chad helped to regain territory from Boko Haram, undermining its six-year campaign to establish a caliphate in West Africa. Ever since, there has been an uptick in attacks in remote border areas around Lake Chad. Chad is strategically important because of its crude oil reserves. Because of this wealth, Chad has become a key player in the fight against terrorism. President Idriss Déby Itno has pledged to contribute over a third of the 8,700 soldiers currently assigned to the multi-national force created to bring an end to the Boko Haram insurgency that began in 2009
The most recent Global Terror Index indicates that Boko Haram has overtaken the Islamic State (IS) as the world's deadliest terror group. Boko Haram killed an estimated 6,644 people in 2014, more than three quarters of which were civilians. The two groups were jointly responsible for over half of the world's terror-related fatalities in 2014.
On Friday, the US State Department released a statement condemning "the recent deadly suicide bombings and callous attacks" in Niger, Nigeria, and Cameroon by Boko Haram. "Boko Haram terrorists are depriving the people of the Lake Chad Basin region of their fundamental right to live in peace and security," the statement said.
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Reuters contributed to this report.