Boko Haram terrorists have reportedly killed 53 soldiers and farmers in three days of attacks in Nigeria’s troubled northeast region.
The Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), a Boko Haram splinter group, killed at least 44 soldiers in attacks on three military bases at the weekend, security sources told AFP on Tuesday.
Of those, at least 43 were killed on Sunday in Metele, a remote village near the border with the Niger Republic, according to a military officer who requested anonymity.
“Our troops were completely routed and the terrorists captured the base after heavy fighting,” he said, adding that the base commander and three officers were among the dead.
The military personnel added, “A search was underway for survivors or further victims in the surrounding bush.”
A pro-government militiaman said the insurgents arrived on around 20 trucks and Army air support did not arrive until after they had “invaded the base and looted the weapons”.
The same day, the group also launched a pre-dawn attack on a base in the town of Gajiram, some 80 kilometres (50 miles) north of the Borno State capital, Maiduguri.
According to residents, fighting lasted several hours.
And a soldier was reportedly killed in an attack Saturday on a base in Mainok, also in Borno State, the cradle of the Boko Haram movement, security sources said.
ISWAP asserted responsibility for the attacks in Metele and Mainok, claiming to have killed at least 42 soldiers in addition to carting away four tanks and other vehicles, according to the SITE Intelligence monitoring group.
In addition, Monday saw the latest in a string of attacks on villages, usually carried out to pillage food and abduct civilians used as fighters or forced to marry the terrorists.
The insurgents have accused farmers and loggers of passing information to the military.
Armed with guns and machetes, the insurgents reportedly killed nine farmers and abducted 12 others in the Mammanti village in Borno State, residents said.
The insurgents came on bicycles, said Usman Kaka, a farmer who escaped. “They just opened fire on us and continued to fire as we fled,” he said.
Village chief Muhammad Mammanti also lamented that the assailants had hacked “three people who resisted being abducted”.
Also on Monday, seven women were snatched while working in fields near the city of Bama, according to militiamen fighting alongside Army soldiers.
In an attack on Mammanti last week, the insurgents stole hundreds of herds of cattle.