At least 12 civilians were killed in multiple Boko Haram attacks targeting two villages and a camp for people displaced by the bloody conflict in northeastern Nigeria, civilian militia and residents told AFP.
Jihadists in seven trucks late on Wednesday, October 31 attacked Bulaburin and Kofa villages as well as an IDP camp in Dalori, about 15 km (nine miles) from Borno state capital Maiduguri. Daloir houses around 50,000 people in makeshift camps.
The attack was launched in Kofa where the jihadists opened fire indiscriminately and killed one person as residents fled, said Kofa resident Musa Goni.
“They then moved to nearby Bulaburin where they gunned down nine people and burnt the village after stealing food,” Goni said.
“The terrorists attacked and completely burnt Bulaburin and Kofa villages and burnt half the Dalori 2 IDP camp,” militia leader Babakura Kolo told AFP.
“They killed nine people in Bulaburin, two people in Dalori, and one in Kofa and looted food supplies before setting them on fire,” Kolo said.
At Dalori 2 IDP camp, which houses 10,000 homeless people, the jihadists engaged troops and civilian militia guarding the camp in a shootout before overrunning the makeshift facility, civilian militia member Solomon Adamu said.
“When the Boko Haram gunmen came they stopped on the road overlooking the camp and started firing,” said Adamu who took part in the fight.
“Soldiers and Civilian JTF at the gate engaged them in gunfight but were forced to withdraw into the camp because we were out-gunned,” he said.
The Civilian Joint Task Force is a militia formed in 2013 to fight Boko Haram, and recently released 833 child soldiers under a deal agreed last year.
Residents were forced to flee and two were killed while several were injured, according to Adamu, and the jihadists “burnt half the camp” by setting fires and firing rocket-propelled grenades at buildings.
“One grenade didn’t explode and is still lying in the camp, waiting for bomb disposal units to evacuate it,” Adamu said.
Citing residents and a reporter, Reuters reported that a total of at least 15 people were killed – five in Kofa, nine in Bulbarin and one in Dalori.
The Nigerian Army said in a statement that troops had “foiled” the attack on Kofa and Dalori, but that a single civilian was found dead. The army often downplays casualties, particularly among the military.
It said that “terrorists” in four vehicles and on “some motorcycles” attacked at around 10 p.m. and ransacked the market in front of the camp.
“On sighting own troops that were mobilized to the area, they set some houses and the market ablaze and fled,” the statement said.
The area has been attacked multiple times before by the Boko Haram faction loyal to Abubakar Shekau.
In June 2017, two female suicide bombers blew themselves up at the camp. The attack injured several residents but killed only the bombers. That followed a separate attack at nearby Kofa village, where female suicide bombers killed at least 16 people.
In January 2016, at least 85 people were killed when militant fighters stormed and torched Dalori village and tried to gain access to the camps.
Boko Haram is divided into two factions that have competing goals and operational methods. One, led by Abubakar Shekau, is notorious for suicide bombings and indiscriminate killings of civilians. The other, known as Islamic State West Africa Province and led by Abu Mus’ab Al-Barnawi, largely focuses on attacking military and government targets.
ISWAP has in recent months been blamed for the increasing attacks on military bases in Borno and nearby Yobe state. It is dominant around the shores of Lake Chad, while the Shekau-led faction is concentrated in rural areas of Borno state.
The Combatting Terrorism Center at West Point in August estimated that ISWAP has around 3,500 fighters. The Shekau faction could consist of up to 1,500 militants.
In recent weeks, Boko Haram militants suspected to be from the Shekau faction have increasingly attacked civilian targets in the region.
On October 22, militants raided Mifah, 7 km from Chibok, where Boko Haram abducted more than 200 schoolgirls in 2014. They killed two people before stealing food and livestock and burning the village.
Two days earlier, militants killed two people and burned the neighboring villages of Dala-Melari, Fuguri and Femari, around 6 km (3.8 miles) outside Maiduguri in an overnight raid.
Those attacks came hours after at least 12 farmers were hacked to death while working in their fields near Kalla village, 5 km away.
On October 18, Boko Haram fighters looted and burnt Kalli village near the town of Damboa after fighting off soldiers protecting it, according to local officials.
With reporting from AFP