At least seven soldiers were killed in a militants attack on military positions in northeast Nigeria, a civilian vigilante and a security source said on Friday. The attack happened in the town of Gajiram, about 80 kilometres (50 miles) by road north of the Borno state capital, Maiduguri, on Wednesday afternoon.
A military source in Maiduguri and a civilian vigilante, Babakura Kolo, said on Thursday that the fighting lasted for about two hours and that three soldiers were killed. But Kolo said on Friday that the toll was had risen and that it was “now seven, including one lieutenant, and six rank and file. Yesterday, three bodies of soldiers were found but four more bodies were found during a search.”
The security source said three militants were also killed and troops were combing the area to find other rebel fighters. Fighters loyal to Abu Musab Al-Barnawi were suspected of carrying out the attack, said Kolo.
The Islamic State group, to which militants is affiliated, announced that Barnawi was leader last year. He split from the faction following long-time militants leader Abubakar Shekau in opposition at his indiscriminate attacks on civilians. Barnawi has instead vowed to hit only “hard” targets such as the military and police.
His group is believed to operate in northern Borno state, towards Lake Chad and the border with Niger. According to the security source, the campainers went door to door collecting recently distributed food aid for residents.
Kolo said vigilantes had been told by arrested militants suspects that they sourced most of their food from Gajiram and Monguno, a garrison town 60 kilometres away. Nigeria’s government wants the hundreds of thousands of displaced people staying in camps and host communities to return to their homes as soon as the military makes areas safe again.
But another attack on Wednesday near Gajiganna, some 50 kilometres from Maiduguri on the way to Gajiram, highlighted the risks they run. “Some displaced people were returning to their villages in the area to harvest their abandoned cornfields when they were intercepted by militants,” said Kolo. “They killed some and took away others,” he said, without specifying a death toll.
Meanwhile, Nigerian Air Force (NAF) on Friday struck militants terrorists’ location at Tagoshe/Mandara Mountain general area, about 10km South-west of Gwoza in Northern Borno.
Air Force spokesman, Group Captain Ayodele Famuyiwa, confirmed the development in a statement to newsmen.
He said, “intelligence report by Sister surface forces had it that the remnants of fleeing militants terrorists were gathered at the location. This report was confirmed by NAF Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft before combat platforms were called in to strike the location. Follow-up battle damage assessment confirmed that the air attack was successful as shown by the enclosed declassified footage of the operation.”
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