Boko Haram fighters aboard dozens of vehicles raided a base near a key city in northeast Nigeria, in their latest assault on the security forces, police and local militia said.
Late on Thursday, July 26, Boko Haram fighters stormed a base on the outskirts of Jakana, a village 30 km (18 miles) from the Borno state capital of Maiduguri, firing guns and rocket-propelled grenades.
They then attacked and burned down a police station before fleeing, local militia said.
“Yesterday at about 1742 hours, Boko Haram terrorists in about 30 vehicles launched [an] attack on Jakana,” Borno state police spokesperson Edet Okon said in a short statement on Friday.
“The police combat units were deployed for reinforcement. The insurgents were successfully repelled by security forces,” Okon said without giving details on casualties.
Local militia leader Babakura Kolo said the attackers took over the base for “more than an hour” before reinforcements arrived from Maiduguri.
“They took control of the military base after overpowering soldiers and burned down the police station,” he said.
“Details of casualties are still sketchy but the bodies of two policemen and a civilian were recovered while nine residents were injured from stray bullets.”
Following the attack, the Nigerian army announced a “major” redeployment of senior officers. Reuters reported that it named Major General A.M. Dikko as the latest commander to lead counter-insurgency operations, the third in the space of a year, and the fourth in 14 months.
The latest attack comes just two weeks after the jihadists overran a military base in nearby Yobe state and ambushed troops near the group’s Sambisa forest stronghold.
On July 14, fighters believed to be loyal to Boko Haram factional leader Abu Mus’ab Al-Barnawi, raided a base in Jilli village. Dozens of troops were said to have been killed or missing.
The day before, 23 troops went missing after a military convoy was ambushed by fighters in the Bama area of Borno state, where the Abubakar Shekau faction of Boko Haram is strong.
Boko Haram is divided into two factions that have competing goals and operational methods. One, led by Abu Mus’ab al-Barnawi and affiliated with Islamic State, is apparently in talks with the Nigerian government. The other, led by Shekau, is notorious for suicide bombings.
The attacks underline the threat posed despite repeated government and military claims that Boko Haram, whose insurgency has killed at least 20,000 people since 2009, is a spent force and on the verge of defeat.
The government is now encouraging thousands of people displaced by the conflict to return to their homes from makeshift camps in the Borno state capital, Maiduguri.
But international aid agencies working in the remote region say conditions are not right for mass returns, particularly in terms of security.
With reporting from AFP