Nigeria: ISWAP Fighters Return to Borno Community, Kill 30 Villagers

President Muhammadu Buhari (file photo).

Members of ISWAP, a breakaway faction of Boko Haram, on Saturday staged yet another deadly attack on a village in Gubio local government killing at least 31 residents and injuring many others, security sources said.

The second attack on the Gubio village took place around the same time Monguno, the country home of the current National Security Adviser, Major General Mohammed Monguno, was being attacked.

PREMIUM TIMES earlier reported how Monguno came under heavy attack at about noon, on Saturday, when armed insurgents stormed the town in large numbers.

Sources familiar with the Monguno incident confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES that the insurgents came in about 13 pickup vehicles and gun trucks and immediately engage soldiers in a fierce gun duet.

"They split into two groups while approaching Monguno," said an official of a local vigilante group, Malam Bunu.

"The first group moved straight into the town and headed straight to the military base, while the second group engaged the soldiers at the outskirt of Monguno. They came in a way, that they circled the soldiers who had to return fire from the middle."

Some of the insurgents drove right into Monguno town in seven trucks and began to drop leaflets to the residents.

In the single-sheet typed letter, which was written in Hausa, the insurgents warned the residents to desist from cooperating with the military. They told the insurgents "not to allow the military to use them as a human shield because whereever the soldiers are based is our battlefield."

Mr Bunu said the civilian residents were not directly attacked by the insurgents, as "they stated in the warning letter that they would not fight civilians 'except soldiers and those who took sides with their enemy."

He said some soldiers were killed by the insurgents in Monguno.

"One of our members in Monguno informed us that he saw six bodies of slain soldiers at the entrance," the vigilante official said.

The army is yet to speak on the Monguno incident and whether or not it suffered casualties from the attack.

Mr Bunu also said he was informed that some facilities of the UN and other aid organisations were torched during the attack. PREMIUM TIMES has not been able to verify this.

PREMIUM TIMES gathered that the insurgents later left Monguno and headed for Nganzai, a town 59km northeast of Gubio village where they also dropped leaflets.

Attacking Gubio village

Our source confirmed that the insurgents also attacked Goni-Usmanti village in Gubio local government where they killed at least 31 persons.

"Goni Usmanti is not very far from the village where 81 persons were killed on Tuesday," the source said.

"They went there at about the time Monguno was being attacked and opened fire on the residents killing about 31 persons. We are not sure if the number would be more than that because we learned that some people fled into the bushes and the insurgents went shooting after them."

Why Gubio suffers repeated attacks

Sources who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES said there has been a long-standing acrimony between the villagers in Gubio local government especially the herders community and the ISWAP group.

"Due to the large scale business of animal husbandry in those villages, the insurgent used to harass the dwellers from time to time during which they would demand levies or forcefully take away their animals.

"With time the villagers began to resist them, by arming themselves with double barrel hunting rifles, Dane guns, and other non-ballistic weapons.

"So each time Boko Haram sends their traducers who usually visit them riding on one or two motorcycles, the villagers who are also spiritually charmed, would overpower the insurgents, kill and bury them. This has been going on for many months now, and by so doing the farmers were able to preserve their cows and other livestock

"Attacking them in their villages used to be very difficult, that was why they visited them at the water point in Foduma Koloram where they killed most of the hardened defenders of the villages before going in to maim other residents," the source said.

The renewed attacks came barely 24 hours after President Muhammadu Buhari condemned the mass killing in Gubio by ISWAP and charged soldiers to go after the insurgents and ensure that they are brought to book.

The Borno State Government has confirmed the attacks even as officials said they are yet to get detailed briefing on them.

Yabawa Kolo, the Executive Chairperson of State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES that "we have heard about the unfortunate attacks in Monguno and Gubio, but we have not received detailed update on the incidents for us to make comments or respond to the emergency situation that may have befall the poor people."

Mrs Kolo said based on advice from the security, SEMA cannot immediately respond or visit the attacked communities to make assessment.

"We have to wait for the security for clearance before one can move into the areas," she said.

"We are still in contact with the security agencies hoping that they would soon give us the go ahead."

The spokesman of the Nigeria Army, Sagir Musa, did not return calls nor respond to text messages sent to him.

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