At least two civilians were killed and 13 others were injured when a splinter group of Boko Haram attacked a military outpost in northeast Nigeria, a government of Nigeria spokesman said. Laden in 14 trucks, fighters from the Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP) attacked the troops at Mena Hari village near Bayu Town, 180 km southwest of the Borno state capital, Maiduguri.
ISWAP was formerly known as Jamā’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da’wah wa’l-Jihād, meaning “Group of the People of Sunnah for Preaching and Jihad”.
Civilians were caught in the crosshairs during a fierce two-hour battle with the security forces and civilian militia.
“Two persons died, after visiting the Bayu General Hospital, where the casualties were being treated on Tuesday,” Borno government spokesman Bulama Talba said in a statement, adding, “Thirteen persons suffered various injuries as a result of stray bullets.”
Local residents said that three people from the same family were killed during the fighting when a rocket-propelled grenade hit their house nearby. “Two RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades) hit two houses, killing three people in one and badly damaging the other with a vehicle,” said Ahmed Babagana, a local resident.
The west African wing of Boko Haram was forced to withdraw, civilian militia fighter Mustafa Karimbe said. He said that no casualties were reported from either side.
In recent weeks, the off-shoot of Boko Haram called Islamic State WAP has intensified deadly attacks in the Northeast, not only targeting troops but also raising fake outposts and killing and kidnapping civilians.
On Tuesday, the United Nations condemned the “increasing practice by armed groups to establish outposts targeting civilians” in the Northeast.
On Sunday, dozens of Islamic State WAP jihadis unsuccessfully attempted to overthrow the city of Damataru, the capital of the neighbouring state of Yobe.
According to security and civilian sources, soldiers used fighter jets to fight terrorists during the long battle.
A decade-long insurgency in northeast Nigeria killed 36,000 people and displaced another 2 million, according to the United Nations, creating a prolonged humanitarian crisis.
The conflict has spread to neighbouring Niger, Cameroon and Chad, leading countries to form a regional military force to counter the Islamic threat.