Islamist militants attacked a military base in northeast Nigeria, killing a police officer and a local resident, witnesses said Thursday.
Fighters in 13 vehicles late Wednesday, March 27 attacked the base outside Miringa village in Borno state, very close to Buratai, the homeplace of Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai.
The insurgents burnt the base along with an armored vehicle and a primary school. They were thought to be from the Islamic State West Africa province faction of Boko Haram, AFP reported.
“They came around 6:30 p.m. in 13 vehicles and attacked the military location just outside the village,” Miringa resident Umar Sanda told AFP.
“The two sides fought for more than one hour while all the people in the village fled into the bush.”
Fleeing residents later returned to their homes and “found the base, the lodging, an armoured personnel carrier and a section of a primary school burnt,” said another resident, Abba Usman.
Usman said the bodies of a police officer and a resident who lived near the base were recovered.
“The soldiers were able to fight off the attack and prevented the insurgents from entering the village,” said civilian militia leader Mustapha Karimbe, from the nearby town of Biu, which is home to the newly established Nigerian Army University.
The area around Miringa has been repeatedly targeted by insurgents since Buratai became Nigeria’s chief of army staff in 2015.
In January, six soldiers were killed and 14 were injured when militants sacked a base in nearby Kamuya, stealing weapons and burning military vehicles. ISIS in its al-Naba magazine claimed ISWA fighters carried out the attack.
Kamuya, the home village of Buratai’s mother according to AFP, was hit twice in December 2015, not long after he was appointed.
The jihadist group known as Boko Haram split into two factions in mid-2016. One led by long-time leader Abubakar Shekau is notorious for suicide bombings and indiscriminate killings of civilians. Shekau pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi in March 2015, but ISIS central only gives formal backing to the other faction, which is known as Islamic State West Africa province.
The ISWA faction, which largely focuses on attacking military and government targets, was led by Abu Mus’ab Al-Barnawi, but earlier this month, audio recordings revealed that ISIS appointed Abu Abdullah Idris bin Umar also known as Ibn Umar al-Barnawi as leader. ISIS has not yet made a public statement confirming the change.
Boko Haram’s bloody insurgency began in northeastern Nigeria in 2009 but has since spread into neighboring Niger, Chad and Cameroon, prompting a regional military response. Some 27,000 people have been killed and two million others displaced, sparking a dire humanitarian crisis in the region.
With reporting from AFP