A Boko Haram splinter group loyal to the Islamic State, Islamic State West Africa Province, has claimed the attack on the convoy of Borno State governor in northeast Nigeria, Reuters reported.
The state is one epicentre of insurgency that started in 2009 and is home to Chibok where over 200 girls were kidnapped from their school hostels a little less than five years ago.
ISWAP said on Amaq News Agency that it killed 42 people in the attack carried out on Tuesday evening when the governor was returning from a campaign outing near Dikwa.
Some of those killed may have been beheaded, a military source told Reuters.
The Guardian learned on Wednesday that the insurgents ambushed the convoy, split it into two and attacked the one left at the rear.
Another source told AFP that two soldiers and two civilians were killed and an unspecified number of ruling All Progressives Congress members were kidnapped.
“The bus they were travelling in got stuck in the sand while the driver was trying to manoeuvre and turn back towards Dikwa,” the source told AFP.
“All the people in the bus were rounded up and taken into the bush. Another truck belonging to CJTF, which also got stuck, was taken away but the occupants were able to flee.”
Tomasz Rolbiecki, a Polish journalist who covers activities of Islamic and Boko Haram insurgency said the attackers claimed only “2 people and 4 vehicles” were captured.
Neither Governor Kashim Shettima, who is completing his second term in office and now campaign for a seat in the Nigerian Senate and the military have commented on the attack.
But Shettima’s deputy Usman Durkwa told newsmen on Wednesday that he heard the rumours of the attack. He said he was yet to confirm if it was true.
“I am hearing it as a rumour,” Durkwa said.
“I am yet to get a report on the attack of the governor’s convoy. They are yet to return from a campaign rally in Mafa, Dikwa and Gamboru, a border town with Cameroon.”
The spokesman for 7 Division of the Nigerian Army, Maiduguri, Col. Ado Isa, said military formations around the affected area were yet to send in a report of the incident.
Dent to defeat claims
The attack on the governor convoy was carried out a few days to the start of the election on February 16.
President Muhammadu Buhari, who is in the running for another four years as Nigeria’s president campaigned on three key promises of repositioning the economy, fighting corruption and strengthening the security of the country.
Critics said the initial gains made by the government are now being eroded by lethal attacks.
ISWAP has been active in recent months carrying out daring attacks on villages and military formations in the troubled northeast.
These attacks came after the government and the military claimed, at different times, that the terrorists have been defeated or technically degraded.