Eight killed in Nigeria extremist attacks, say military

KANO, Nigeria (AFP) – Eight people, including three soldiers, were killed in extremist attacks on an army base and village in northeast Nigeria ahead of yesterday’s Aidiladha festival, military sources said.

Three troops and three civilians died last Saturday when fighters from the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) group attacked a base in Gubio, a town 80 kilometres from the regional capital Maiduguri, two sources said last Sunday.

Three soldiers were killed “defending the base from ISWAP terrorists who wanted to overrun it”, the first source said.

“Three civilians were hit and killed in a crossfire,” said the source, an officer who asked not to be identified for fear of punishment.

Two soldiers and six civilians were injured, he said.

The extremists attacked the base in eight pickup trucks fitted with machine guns, leading to a two-hour long battle, said the second source, who gave the same toll.

The attack was repelled with the aid of a fighter jet which deployed two hours into the clashes, said the officer.

“The terrorists were pulverised and forced to withdraw. Eleven of them were killed and three of their vehicles were seized,” he said.

ISWAP ransacked the same base in May, killing three soldiers.

In a separate assault on Sunday, fighters from rival extremist faction Boko Haram killed two residents and burnt homes in an attack on the village of Ngwom, 14 kilometres from Maiduguri.

Gunmen in pickup trucks stormed the village in a pre-dawn attack, shooting dead two male residents before robbing women of jewellery and torching four houses, anti-Boko Haram militia leader Babakura Kolo said.

“A woman had one of her ears chopped off by the insurgents as punishment for resisting being robbed,” Kolo said.

The extremists attempted to seize a nearby military base after the raid, but were rebuffed following a one-hour gunfight, Kolo and a military source said.

The decade-long insurgency in northeast Nigeria has killed over 27,000 people, displaced some two million and spilt over into neighbouring countries.

The extremists are notorious for stepping up attacks during the Eid season, prompting heightened security across the region.

ISWAP split from the Boko Haram faction headed by long-time leader Abubakar Shekau in 2016.

Since mid-2018 ISWAP has ramped up attacks on the military, while Shekau’s group tends to hit softer civilian targets.

Last Saturday, several soldiers were also wounded when their vehicle hit a mine planted by ISWAP near the border with Niger, the military sources said.