Suspected fighters of the Islamic State in West Africa (Iswap) have invaded a town in northeastern Nigeria, taking hundreds of civilians hostage, local and security sources reported on Wednesday.
The people of Kukawa had just returned to their homes after living for two years in a camp for internally displaced persons, due to the violence ravaging the Lake Chad region and in particular Borno State, in northeast Nigeria.
A local chief who was among them, and who managed to escape, said they returned in early August hoping to finally be able to cultivate their land, “but soon ended up in the hands of the insurgents.”
“WE DON’T KNOW WHAT THEY ARE GOING TO DO WITH THEM, BUT WE HOPE THAT THEY WILL NOT DO THEM ANY HARM,” SAID THE COMMUNITY LEADER, WHO PREFERS TO REMAIN ANONYMOUS.
A security source confirmed the attack and said fighter jets had been deployed from Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, to “deal with the situation”.
Kukawa is located near the large town of Baga, on the shores of Lake Chad, an area controlled by the Iswap group, which split from Boko Haram in 2016. The group, affiliated with Daesh, has carried out numerous attacks, particularly against it. Nigerian army, and killed hundreds if not thousands of soldiers.
It also controls medium-sized towns and villages, and thousands of civilians live under its control.
More than 36,000 people have been killed since 2009 in the violence in Nigeria and more than two million people still cannot return to their homes.
The United Nations said last week that 10.6 million people (out of a total of 13 million), or “four in five” depend on humanitarian aid for their survival in Nigeria’s three worst-affected states. the jihadist conflict (Borno, Yobe, Adamawa). “This is the highest number on record since we started operations five years ago.”