ISWAP Fighters Kill Six, Abduct Five in Ambush
IS-aligned jihadists killed six people and abducted five others in northeast Nigeria Sunday, after blocking a major highway and singling out security officials and aid workers witnesses said.
Around 30 fighters from the Islamic State West Africa Province group took control of the highway near Gasarwa village, 100 kilometres (62 miles) north of the Borno State capital, Maiduguri.
They stopped motorists and demanded their identification.
“They killed six people and abducted five others, including a woman,” Haruna Ashiru, a bus driver whose passengers were among the victims, told AFP.
“They specifically targeted security personnel, vigilantes, Fulani herders and Christians,” said the driver, who was interrogated by the jihadists but let go.
The militants singled at least six people and killed them, he added. Some of the victims were shot while others were forced to kneel and sliced in the neck.
A policeman, a civil servant and three aid workers were abducted in the attack, Ashiru said.
One police officer who tried to flee after he was identified was killed after jihadists pursued him in a truck and ran him over, said a civilian militia leader, Umar Ari who also witnessed six deaths.
Three Fulani herders including two women as well as two Christian traders were among those killed, Ari said.
– Civilians increasingly targeted –
Clashes between jihadists and Fulani herders have intensified in recent months, with militants increasingly raiding herding villages to steal livestock.
Last week 19 herders were killed near the border with Cameroon following clashes with Boko Haram jihadists who tried to steal their cattle.
ISWAP have also increasingly abducted motorists at bogus checkpoints in Borno state, targeting security personnel, anti-jihadist militia as well as Christians – a minority in the Muslim majority north of Nigeria.
On December five ISWAP fighters disguised as soldiers, kidnapped 19 people at a fake security checkpoint outside Maiduguri.
Six soldiers and eight civilians, including two Red Cross workers, were among those kidnapped the group said.
A video released days later showed the execution of two soldiers and a policeman they said were among the hostages.
ISWAP, a faction which split from another jihadist group Boko Haram, initially from mid-2018 focused on targeting military installations and troops.
In recent months however, the group has launched attacks on civilians.
The decade-long jihadist conflict in the region has killed 35,000 people and forced around two million to flee their homes in the northeast.
The violence has spread to neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon, prompting a regional military coalition to fight the militants.
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