Security sources confirmed the deaths of at least 30 people in Nigeria this weekend after suspected Islamists once again attacked the convoy of Borno Governor Babagana Umara Zulum.
Sources who spoke with Agence France-Presse (AFP) said that the death count was higher following the discovery of more bodies that included 12 policemen, five soldiers, four members of a government-backed militia, and nine civilians.
“The tally has increased to 30 as many bodies were picked in the surrounding areas after the attack,” one of the sources told the agency, adding that “many people were injured.”
Another security source corroborated the death toll of 30 from the ambush and confirmed that the militants seized eight vehicles.
“The terrorists made away with an armored personnel carrier, a gun truck, and six sports utility vehicles in the convoy,” the source said.
A second attack took place on Sunday as Zulum was returning to the state capital, Maiduguri, following a visit to the town of Baga. The BBC reported that attackers used a donkey strapped with explosives when targeting the convoy, but did not injure anyone within it. Authorities documented attacker deaths but the number remains unknown publicly.
Authorities believe the perpetrators to be Boko Haram, a jihadist organization born in Maiduguri that Nigerian authorities claim to have splintered over the decision to rebrand as an arm of the Islamic State, Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), in 2015. Nigerian law enforcement insists that Boko Haram and ISWAP are now two different groups. Their decade-long insurgency across northeast Nigeria has inflicted untold damage upon the region, killing 36,000 and displacing more than two million people.
Many of the displaced are currently being held at camps in squalid conditions outside the city of Maiduguru in neighboring Cameroon, where they are mostly dependent on support from charities and humanitarian organizations. However, Governor Zulum recently warned that maintaining the camps was financially unsustainable and insisted that they must return to the city and rebuild their homes in order to live a “dignified” existence.
“I want them to go back home. I informed them about the good tidings of the federal government as well as the government of the Borno state that we shall do everything possible that they return home in a dignified manner,” he told reporters last week. “I have also come to express my sincere appreciation to the managers of the camp and particularly UN as well as the government of Cameroon. The people have also attested to me that they are doing well but they are just willing to return.”
In July, Zulum was subject to another attack while he was delivering food in a humanitarian aid convoy. Having survived the incident, Zulum made the extraordinary claim that it was the Nigerian army rather than Boko Haram who were responsible, although did not provide any evidence for his allegation.
“As far as I am concerned, there was no Boko Haram,” he told local media. “It was a serious shooting by the Nigerian Armed Forces while ‘residing’ in Baga. The situation is very embarrassing.”