Kano:Boko Haram jihadists have seized a military base in northeast Nigeria, days after an attack left five troops dead and 30 missing, security sources and residents said Saturday.
A column of fighters from the IS-affiliated Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) in trucks and on motorcycles stormed into the base in the town of Magumeri, 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the Borno state capital Maiduguri late Friday.
The militants overran the base, hauling away weapons before they were forced out.
“The terrorists dislodged troops from the base after an intense fight,” a military officer told AFP.
“We lost weapons and equipment to the terrorists but it is not clear if there was any human loss,” said the officer, who asked not to be named.
The jihadists arrived in the town around 5:00 pm (1600 GMT) and engaged troops in an hour-long fight before they “gained the upper hand and chased the troops away,” militia leader Gremah Kaka told AFP.
“The insurgents overpowered the soldiers and forced them to flee into the bush,” he said.
Kaka said the jihadists stayed in the base for “more than four hours” before they were dislodged by reinforcements from another base in Gubio, 46 kilometres away.
Last week, the jihadists raided a military base in Mararrabar Kimba, 135 kilometres from Maiduguri, killing five troops and stealing weapons, while some 30 troops are listed as missing.
ISWAP has since July last year targeted dozens of military bases in attacks that saw the jihadists kill scores of soldiers.
The military authorities have always denied any casualties.
Boko Haram’s decade-long campaign of violence has killed 27,000 people and displaced around two million in Nigeria.
The conflict has also spilled over into neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon, prompting a regional military coalition to defeat the jihadist group.
However, the Nigerian army on Saturday said some “foreign interests are also working assiduously to cause disaffection and divide the coalition Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF).”
Army spokesman Musa Sagir said in a statement the plot was “to give room for the so-called Islamic State for West African Province (ISWAP) and its defeated local franchise, Boko Haram terrorists group to resurrect”.
He said the military would continue to fight the remnants of “Boko Haram terrorists and their sympathisers”.