dpa/GNA – Fighters with the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorist group have attacked a town in north-eastern Nigeria, including several humanitarian aid facilities.
The gunmen stormed the town of Dikwa in Borno state – where dozens of humanitarian workers, including UN staff, are stationed – late on Monday, with fighting ongoing well into Tuesday, Edward Kallon, resident and humanitarian coordinator for the UN office for humanitarian affairs (OCHA), said in a statement.
“I am outraged to hear the premises of several aid agencies and a hospital were reportedly set ablaze or sustained damage,” said Kallon.
The UN was deeply concerned about the safety and security of civilians in Dikwa, including internally displaced people inside and outside camps and thousands of people who had returned to the community to rebuild their lives after years in displacement, the statement read.
“This violent attack will affect the support provided to nearly 100,000 people who are desperately in need of humanitarian assistance and protection, particularly as the Covid-19 pandemic risks spreading in Borno state,” Kallon added.
ISWAP, a splinter group of Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram, which has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State militia, has claimed responsibility for the attack.
“The caliphate’s soldiers attacked a camp of the apostate Nigerian military in Dikwa town,” according to a claim posted on an Islamic State-affiliated channel on messaging service Telegram.
The group claimed it killed six Nigerian soldiers and injured several others, while the rest fled. ISWAP also said it seized several army vehicles and burned a barracks.
By Tuesday afternoon, Nigerian soldiers and the air force had repulsed the ISWAP fighters, military spokesperson Mohammed Yerima said in a statement.
The terrorists stormed the town in gun trucks and on motorcycles in an attempt to loot food and other logistics items recently distributed in Dikwa, which houses tens of thousands of internally displaced people, Yerima said.
Several landmines the terrorists had on the roads around Dikwa had been defused by soldiers, the spokesperson said.
Yerima did not provide a death toll for either side of the conflict.
Nigeria’s north-east suffers from frequent terrorist attacks by Boko Haram and ISWAP, which have also launched offensives in neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger.
Since 2009, tens of thousands of people have died at the hands of the Islamist fundamentalists in the region. An estimated 2.5 million people fled their homes.