At least 17 people, including a soldier and aid worker, were killed in the latest attacks by Islamic State-aligned jihadists in northeast Nigeria’s Borno state, security and militia sources said Tuesday.
Hundreds of fighters from the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) stormed the town of Rann on the border with Cameroon on Monday, pushing troops out of a base and occupying the town for several hours.
The attack prompted a mass exodus of residents towards Cameroon before ground troops reclaimed the town with aerial support.
ISWAP which split from Boko Haram in 2016 has been consolidating its control since the death in May of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau in clashes between the two rival factions.
Heavily-armed fighters “came in around 1:30am (00:30 GMT) on foot like a swarm of locusts and overwhelmed soldiers who had to abandon their base”, said an anti-jihadist militia leader in the town.
“The insurgents killed 11 people in the attack,” said the source who asked not to be identified.
The jihadists stole weapons before setting fire to buildings and vehicles, added the militia leader, in an account supported by a second militia member in the town.
A United Nations security source in the region said a soldier and a local volunteer with a foreign aid agency were among the dead.
The Nigerian military confirmed the attack on the base, saying troops restored calm after they were initially dislodged.
Earlier on Monday the jihadists attacked nearby Ajiri town, killing six residents, the two militia sources said.
Rann, home to 35,000 people displaced by the jihadist violence, has been repeatedly targeted by ISWAP and rival Boko Haram.
In May, ISWAP attacked the town and killed 35 people, including five troops and 15 militia members.
The 12-year-long insurgency which has spilled into parts of neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon has killed at least 40,000 people and displaced around two million from their homes.