Dozens of Nigerian soldiers killed in militant attack on army base

Militants surpassed an army base in northeastern Nigeria, killing more than 30 soldiers before withdrawing from airstrikes, soldiers and a resident said.

The attackers are believed to belong to the regional outlet of the Islamic State. They struck the base in the city of Mainok in the northeastern state of Borno on Sunday afternoon, three soldiers and a resident told Reuters.

Increasing insecurity across Nigeria has killed many soldiers and civilians this year. Just over a month ago, about 30 soldiers were killed in four attacks by Islamist militants in northeastern Nigeria.

A military spokesman said they would issue a statement on the incident but declined to comment further.

Sources told Reuters that 33 soldiers were killed in Sunday’s attack. The militants wore military camouflage and arrived at about 16 cannon cars and six mine-resistant military vehicles, said one of the soldiers. After several hours, they captured the base and soldiers called for air strikes.

Militants transferred reinforcements

More soldiers were killed when militants withheld reinforcements sent to help, the source said. A resident said the attackers also set fire to the city’s police headquarters.

“I saw them while fighting with soldiers,” resident Ba Umar Abba Tuja told Reuters. “When the fighter jet began to soar in the air (the militants) fled to the community and hid in primary school.”

Tuja said the militants left around midnight.

One soldier said airstrikes had hit army troops because of their similar attire to the militants. The Air Force, in a post on Twitter, said it was investigating the matter.

Mainok is approximately 55 km from Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State. An Islamist uprising has plagued northeastern Nigeria for more than a decade, killing more than 30,000 people and displacing at least 2 million.

The Islamic State of West Africa province, which broke away from Boko Haram several years ago, is now carrying out its own attacks on soldiers and civilians in the region.

(REUTERS)

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