KANO, NIGERIA (AFP) – Extremists linked with the Islamic State (IS) militant group killed five members of a militia in an offensive in Nigeria’s northeastern Borno state, militia sources told AFP.
Fighters from IS West Africa Province (ISWAP) – travelling in pickup trucks fitted with machine guns – attacked Gajiram town, 80 kilometres from the state capital Maiduguri, last Friday.
They targetted hunters and vigilantes who were guarding the town against attacks, resident Mele Butari said.
“We lost five men in the attack,” militia leader Babakura Kolo said last Saturday.
The five men were buried in Maiduguri last Saturday, another militia member Ibrahim Liman said.
Nganzai district, where Gajiram is located, has been repeatedly attacked by extremists in recent months, with troops and residents targetted. In the past two months, the number of ambushes against troops and civilian abductions at fake highway checkpoints by ISWAP – which split from the Boko Haram militant group in 2016 has increased.
The spike in attacks followed the creation of “super camps” by the Nigerian military in the northeast to stave off repeated extremist raids. Authorities in the state recruited hundreds of hunters and vigilantes to fill the void left by the withdrawal of troops from small camps, but they have been exposed to incessant extremist attacks.
The decade-long conflict has killed 36,000 people and displaced around two million from their homes in northeast Nigeria.
The violence has spread to neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon, prompting a regional military coalition to fight the insurgents.