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Nigerian insurgents take northeast government stronghold of Dikwa

GlobalMar 02, 2021 14:30
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MAIDUGURI, Nigeria, March 2 (Reuters) - Suspected Islamist
insurgents overran the northeast Nigerian town of Dikwa in Borno
state, a military stronghold and humanitarian hub, security
sources, residents and an aid worker said on Tuesday.
The capture of Dikwa, home to almost 100,000 people affected
by Nigeria's 11-year war with jihadist group Boko Haram and its
offshoot Islamic State West Africa Province, underscores the
worsening security situation in the country's north.
"We tried our best to repel the attack but they already
overpowered us," said a soldier, describing the fighting he said
began around 6.30 p.m. on Monday. "We fled to the bush despite
reinforcements from the air force," said the soldier, declining
to be named as he was not authorised to speak to media.
A second member of the military confirmed the town's
seizure, as did two Nigerian and two international security
sources, four residents and an aid worker.
Two army spokesmen declined to provide immediate comment. A
spokesman for the governor of Borno did not respond to phone
calls seeking comment.
Dikwa is one of the military's "super camps" - towns
repurposed as defensive strongholds in 2019 to help curtail a
climbing military death toll, while ceding control of much of
the countryside.
Nigeria's security forces had pushed the insurgents out of
the northeast's major towns in 2015 and 2016, but now face a
raft of security challenges across the country's increasingly
restive northern states.
Militants last week rained rocket-propelled grenades on the
northeast's biggest city, Maiduguri, while marauding armed gangs
in the northwest who kidnap for ransom have abducted more than
600 school pupils in the last three months, including 279 girls
who were freed on Tuesday. No super camp had fallen until Marte in January this year,
which was recaptured last week.
Residents in Dikwa said the attackers wore military uniforms
and proclaimed themselves "soldiers of the Khalifa", the term
used by Islamic State's West African branch.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack on the
town, which, like many super camps, doubles as a protected hub
for populations displaced by the conflict, where humanitarian
groups build camps and distribute food and supplies.
The fighters gathered residents together and preached that
they were against the military and anti-Islam forces, three
residents said.
The insurgents also burned or damaged the premises of aid
agencies and a hospital, said a Nigerian security source and
Edward Kallon, the United Nations' Nigeria representative,
citing reports.
"I am gravely preoccupied by reports of an ongoing violent
attack by non-state armed groups in Dikwa," Kallon said in a
statement. "I strongly condemn the attack and am deeply
concerned about the safety and security of civilians."

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'They said they'll shoot': Nigerian schoolgirls recount kidnap
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Nigerian insurgents take northeast government stronghold of Dikwa
 

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