Jihadists have killed 35 people, including five soldiers and 15 militants, in two attacks in northern Nigeria’s troubled Borno state, sources told AFP on Tuesday.
Militants aligned with the Islamic State have stepped up attacks on army camps in recent weeks as part of a decade-long insurgency that has killed 36,000 people and forced more than two million to flee their homes.
Fighters from the Islamic State West African province (ISWAP) arrived in several trucks equipped with machine guns and stormed the city of Ajiri on Monday night.
They attacked a military base, sparking heavy fighting in which five soldiers and 15 anti-jihadist militiamen were killed, two military sources said.
ISWAP had raided the same base on Sunday, killing the base commander along with six civilians and taking weapons, military sources said.
The troops returned to the base on Sunday.
“We lost five soldiers and 15 civilian JTFs (militias) in the fighting,” a military official told AFP.
The source said 10 civilians were killed in the crossfire.
“The terrorists arrived in large numbers around 8:45 p.m. and engaged in a combat that lasted hours,” added the officer.
Residents fled to nearby Mafa to escape the fighting.
“The number of victims is 30,” said a second military source.
The militants seized five trucks in the attack, including one equipped with machine guns, the second source said.
Separately on Tuesday, five civilians were killed and seven others injured when their vehicle struck a landmine outside the town of Rann near the Cameroon border, residents said.
The vehicle was coming from the town of Gamboru when it hit the landmine in the village of Tumshe, 10 kilometers from Rann, they said.
“The vehicle exploded. Five people died and seven were seriously injured, “Rann resident Walid Abdallah told AFP.
Abdallah’s account was supported by Ibrahim Umar of Gamboru.
“It was obviously planted by terrorists to avenge its loss on Saturday,” Umar said, referring to ISWAP.
On Saturday, ISWAP fighters were driven back when they attacked a base in Rann, sparking artillery fire from troops hitting the trucks of two militants while the rest fled, military sources said.
ISWAP broke away from the mainstream Boko Haram in 2016 and became a dominant group in the region, launching attacks on military bases and ambushing troops while kidnapping travelers at fake checkpoints.
Since 2019, the army has mainly withdrawn from smaller villages and bases into so-called “super camps,” fortified garrisons meant to provide better protection against attack.
Critics say the strategy has left jihadists free to roam rural areas unchallenged and has made roads vulnerable to kidnapping and assault.