ISWAP kills 5 anti-jihadist fighters in Nigeria

More than 100 vigilantes and local hunters from the region had been sent to the town in recent days
vehicle allegedly belonging to the Islamic State group in West Africa (ISWAP) that killed 5 anti-jihadist fighters in Gubio, Nigeria
Heavy caliber bullet casings are seen on the bottom of a pickup vehicle allegedly belonging to the Islamic State group in West Africa (ISWAP) in Baga on August 2, 2019. – Intense fighting between a regional force and the Islamic State group in West Africa (ISWAP) has resulted in dozens of deaths, including at least 25 soldiers and more than 40 jihadists, in northeastern Nigeria. ISWAP broke away from Boko Haram in 2016 in part due to its rejection of indiscriminate attacks on civilians. Last year the group witnessed a reported takeover by more hardline fighters who sidelined its leader and executed his deputy. The IS-affiliate has since July 2018 ratcheted up a campaign of attacks against military targets. (Photo by AUDU MARTE / AFP)

Jihadists killed five members of a civilian militia during an attack on a town in northeast Nigeria over the weekend, security sources said Tuesday. Fighters aligned to the Islamic State group on Sunday launched an assault on Gubio in eight pickup trucks fitted with machine guns, sparking an hour-long firefight.

“Five of our comrades were killed in the attack,” anti-jihadist militia leader Babakura Kolo told reporters.

Militia leaders and a military officer dismissed a claim from the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) group that it had killed and wounded 18 soldiers in the weekend attack.

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More than 100 vigilantes and local hunters from the region had been sent to the town in recent days to protect it against incursions from ISWAP. The redeployment came amid a new strategy by the military that has seen soldiers pulled back into “super camps” in a move critics say leaves towns more vulnerable to attack.  

Gubio, 80 kilometres from the regional capital Maiduguri, has been repeatedly targeted by the jihadists. On Wednesday at least seven Nigerian soldiers were killed when their convoy was ambushed by ISWAP jihadists outside Gubio, according to a senior military officer.

ISWAP is a splinter faction that broke away from Boko Haram in 2016. It has ramped up attacks against the military since the middle of 2018, repeatedly carrying out deadly strikes against soldiers. 

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In recent months there has been an increase in attacks on civilians blamed on the group. 

The decade-long conflict has killed 35,000 people and displaced around two million from their homes in northeast Nigeria. The violence has spread to neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon, prompting a regional military coalition to fight the insurgents.

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