The deadly brutality unleashed across Nigeria over the weekend raises serious questions about the country’s internal security.
Security guards stand in a female dormitory at Greenfield University in Kaduna, Nigeria on April 21, 2021. Gunmen attacked a private university in the northern Nigerian state of Kaduna, killing a staff member and kidnapping some students, police and officials said on April 21, 2021. (AFP)
At least 31 Nigerian soldiers were killed when Islamic State militants in West Africa (Daesh) ambushed a military convoy over the weekend and overran a base in the northeastern state of Borno.
Army officials, who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity, said militants attacked the convoy with rocket-propelled grenades in the city of Mainok, just outside the regional capital, Maiduguri, on Sunday. Then they stormed the nearby military base.
“We lost 31 soldiers, including their commander, who was a lieutenant colonel, in the terrorists’ ambush,” one officer said of the attack.
The army later issued an official statement confirming that they had fought fierce fighting for hours on Sunday, including the use of fighter jets.
“I saw them when I was fighting with soldiers,” said the resident of Ba Umar Abba Tuja.
“When the fighter jet was in the air, the (militants) fled to the community and hid in the elementary school,” said Tuja.
The city of Mainok has been repeatedly attacked by militants who led a decades-long insurrection in the region, killing 36,000 people and displacing around two million more from their homes.
ISWAP split from mainstream Boko Haram faction in 2016 and became a dominant force as the conflict spread across Nigeria’s borders into neighboring Chad, Niger and Cameroon.
Escape from violence
In neighboring Yobe state, around 2,000 residents fled their homes on the same day after a separate ISWAP attack hit the city on Friday.
Locals flocked to a nearby river to flee their town, which had come under militant control after Friday’s attack.
Late on Friday, militants began looting and burning shops in the city shortly after taking control after a shooting with Nigerian troops.
According to fleeing residents, the exodus was triggered by the targeted killing of residents by the insurgents.
Although the army’s statement on Saturday claimed it had regained control of the city, local residents and local officials said militants were still around.
The kidnapping of students
In northwestern Kaduna state, it was revealed that criminals had executed two other university students who were kidnapped last week, bringing the total number of hostages killed to five.
The killings in Kaduna state by criminals known locally as “bandits” mark an escalation in the mass kidnapping of students that plagued northwest and central Nigeria. This rapid surge has prompted six northern states to close public schools to prevent further attacks.
“Security agencies have just reported to the Kaduna state government the recovery of two more bodies from Greenfield University students who were killed by armed bandits today,” said Samuel Aruwan, Kaduna’s state commissioner for Homeland Security and Home Affairs.
A school employee was killed in the attack, and the bodies of three students were later discovered in a nearby village.
Last Tuesday, gunmen stormed Greenfield University in Kaduna state, the latest in a string of educational kidnappings carried out primarily as ransom.
Schools have been a constant target for militant groups as they are usually in remote areas where students live in dormitories with only a few security guards.
According to the UN agency UNICEF, around 730 students have been kidnapped since December 2020, disrupting the study of more than five million children.
IPOB attacks continue to spread
The violence is so widespread that even southeastern Nigeria is not immune to the worrying rise in attacks.
Five security officers, including two soldiers, were killed by suspected separatists at Nigeria’s Port Harcourt oil center on Saturday.
Police said: “Armed men believed to be members of the Biafra Indigenous Peoples (IPOB) attacked a Joint Task Force (JTF) checkpoint made up of nine police officers and two soldiers.”
In Port Harcourt, the capital of the southern oil-rich state of Rivers, there has been an increase in deadly attacks against police and other security forces in recent months.
According to police, the attacks took place in two locations on Saturday and two cremated bodies were recovered in one location while three were found in a different location.
The IPOB, which has not responded to the claim, is a banned movement that wants an independent state of Biafra for the Igbo based in southeastern Nigeria.
Source: TRTWorld and agencies