Radical Islamists raided a town in northeast Nigeria near Lake Chad this week, killing three soldiers and taking hundreds of villagers as hostages.
According to a number of local sources, a large battalion of militants of the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) terror group, a splinter group of Boko Haram, stormed the town of Kukawa (Borno State) in trucks late Tuesday.
Local anti-jihadist militia head Babakura Kolo said that the terrorists “attacked the town in 22 trucks around 4:00pm” and proceeded to open fire on soldiers who were guarding the town.
“We don’t know what they would do to them but I hope they don’t harm them,” said a local chief, who asked to remain anonymous.
Many of the hundreds abducted had recently been resettled in the town after spending some two years in displacement camps where they had fled following a similar attack in November 2018. They had been housed in camps in Maiduguri, some 120 miles away until just over two weeks ago.
One security source said that fighter jets had been deployed from Maiduguri on Wednesday to “tackle the situation,” and the Nigerian army announced Thursday that it was now in “full control” of the town.
“The terrorists on 18 August 2020 attacked troops’ location in Kukawa town in Borno state where the attack was vehemently thwarted,” said defense spokesman John Enenche in a statement, noting that troops had killed eight of the jihadists during the confrontation.
“The situation in Kukawa is now calm with troops in full control,” he said.
Boko Haram’s insurgency in Nigeria’s northeast region began in 2009 when the group vowed to establish a caliphate in Nigeria based on fundamentalist Islamic law. The jihadist group has killed some 30,000 during its 10-year campaign mainly in northeastern Nigeria.
According to security sources, ISWAP — which broke off from Boko Haram — is seeking to build up its influence in the Lake Chad region, where Kukawa is located.
Though they have been driven back by the military over the past few years, Boko Haram and ISWAP are still active in terrorizing parts of northeast Nigeria and in border areas in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger.
The ongoing assault from Islamist militants has driven some 2 million people from Nigeria’s northeast, many of whom have moved to IDP camps in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State.
The United Nations said last week that 10.6 million of the 13 million people in the states of Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe would require humanitarian assistance this year due to the ongoing conflict aggravated by the coronavirus pandemic.