Boko Haram jihadists have torched a military base in a northeastern Nigerian village, a day after the group killed seven people in a separate raid in the same region, residents said.
Jihadists believed to be loyal to a faction headed by Abu Musab Al-Barnawi, the son of Boko Haram founder Mohammed Yusuf, on Thursday attacked the base in Wajirko village, 150 kilometers from Maiduguri, capital of Borno state, forcing the soldiers to flee.
Barnawi was appointed last year by ISIS to replace leader Abubakar Shekau. But Barnawi’s right-hand man Mamman Nur, the alleged mastermind of a 2011 bombing of a UN building in Nigeria’s capital Abuja, is believed by many to be the real leader.
“The gunmen arrived in pickups and engaged soldiers in the base just outside the village in a heavy shootout,” Wajirko resident Bukar Maduye told Agence France Presse.
“The soldiers were outgunned and forced to withdraw from the base and allowed the gunmen … to take over the base which they looted and set on fire,” he said.
Mustapha Karimbe, a vigilante assisting the military in its fight against Boko Haram, confirmed the incident, adding that the soldiers had moved to a military base 40 kilometers away.
“There were no reports of casualties from either side but the (military) base was completely burnt by the Boko Haram terrorists and the soldiers fled,” Karimbe said.
In a separate attack on Wednesday scores of Boko Haram fighters rode on motorcycles into Abbati, a farming community outside Maiduguri, where they killed seven men and stole 360 livestock.
“They slaughtered the two men they had forced to lead them to the community and shot dead the five owners of the cattle herds who had confronted them with bows and arrows,” said vigilante Babakura Kolo.
Barnawi and Mamman Nur have previously promised residents in areas under their control they would not be harmed as long as they did not cooperate with Nigerian troops fighting Boko Haram.
But in recent weeks the militants have intensified raids in areas near Lake Chad, stealing food from residents.
They have also killed several civilians they accused of cooperating with the military.