ISWAPFILE – In this file image taken from video released late Friday evening, Oct. 31, 2014, by Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, centre, the leader of Nigeria’s Islamic extremist group. Nigeria’s Boko Haram Islamic extremists have a new leader who promises to end attacks on mosques and markets used by Muslims, according to an interview published Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2016 by the Islamic State. The group’s newspaper al-Nadaa identifies Abu Musab al-Barnawi as the new “Wali” of its West Africa Province _ a title previously used to describe long-time leader Abubakar Shekau. (Boko Haram, via AP, File)
Terrorists linked to Islamic State West Africa Province ISWAP, have attacked a UN base in northeastern Nigeria, trapping 25 aid workers, security and humanitarian sources said.
Scores of ISWAP fighters invaded the town of Dikwa in restive Borno state, dislodging troops from the military base and torching the humanitarian hub, a military source told AFP on Monday.
“We have 25 staff sheltering in the bunker which is under siege by the militants… but so far no staff has been affected,” a humanitarian source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Military reinforcements, including fighter jets and a helicopter gunship, had been deployed to help repel the attackers, the military source said.
The latest attack comes three years to the day after ISWAP fighters attacked a UN humanitarian hub in the remote northeastern town of Rann, killing three aid staff and abducting a female worker.
On Friday last week, ISWAP fighters in trucks fitted with machine guns raided Dikwa, sending residents fleeing. The town, 90 kilometres (55 miles) from the Borno state capital Maiduguri, is home to more than 130,000 people, including 75,000 who had already fled from other parts of the region and were living in camps where they rely on food handouts from aid agencies.
For more than a decade, Nigeria has battled an insurgency by the Islamist group Boko Haram that has devastated the northeast, killing at least 36,000 people and displacing more than two million.
The ISWAP group split from Boko Haram in 2016 and has become a dominant threat in the region, attacking soldiers and bases while killing and kidnapping passengers at bogus checkpoints.
The violence has spread into neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon, prompting a regional military coalition to fight the militants.
Also, the Nigerian troops foiled an attempt by the ISWAP fighters to loot food items and other logistics having got wind of the recent food distribution to residents of the town by the state governor, Professor Babagana Zulum.