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UPDATE 2-Insurgents seize, then leave government stronghold in northeast Nigeria

GlobalMar 02, 2021 18:42
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(Adds Islamic State claim, insurgents leaving town)
MAIDUGURI, Nigeria, March 2 (Reuters) - Islamic State
insurgents left the town of Dikwa on Tuesday after seizing and
overrunning the humanitarian hub and government stronghold in
northeastern Nigeria, two aid workers there said.
An army spokesman had earlier on Tuesday denied reports by
security sources, aid workers and residents that the town in
Borno state had been overrun by militants. He said the attack
was repelled and denied insurgents had trapped aid workers.
But the fighting for Dikwa, home to almost 100,000 people,
underscored the worsening security situation in northern
Nigeria, where the security forces face growing challenges.
Dikwa has been a flashpoint in an 11-year insurgency waged
by jihadist group Boko Haram and its offshoot Islamic State West
Africa Province, which said it was behind the attack.
The two aid workers in Dikwa, requesting anonymity because
they were not permitted to speak to media, said Islamic State
fighters had left the town of their own accord before noon on
Tuesday, without meeting any Nigerian military resistance.
A Nigerian soldier said the militants had proved too strong
in the earlier fighting, which he said had begun on Monday.
"We tried our best to repel the attack but they already
overpowered us," the soldier said. "We fled to the bush despite
reinforcements from the air force."
A second member of the military confirmed the town had been
seized in the fighting, as did two Nigerian and two
international security sources and four residents.
A spokesman for the governor of Borno did not respond to
phone calls seeking comment.

"SUPER CAMPS"
Dikwa is one of the military's "super camps" - towns
repurposed as defensive strongholds in 2019 to help keep the
military death toll down, while ceding control of much of the
countryside.
Nigeria's security forces pushed the insurgents out of the
northeast's main towns in 2015 and 2016, but the area is
increasingly restive again.
Militants last week fired rocket-propelled grenades at
Maiduguri in the northeast and armed gangs in the northwest who
kidnap for ransom have abducted over 600 school pupils in the
last three months, including 279 girls released on Tuesday.
No super camp had fallen until Marte in Borno state in
January this year. It 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.
Dikwa doubles as a protected hub for people displaced by the
conflict. Humanitarian groups there build camps and distribute
food and supplies.
The fighters gathered residents and said the insurgency was
against the military and anti-Islam forces, three residents
said.
The insurgents burned or damaged aid agencies' premises and
a hospital, a Nigerian security source said, and Edward Kallon,
the United Nations' Nigeria representative, condemned the
violence.


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'They said they'll shoot': Nigerian schoolgirls recount kidnap
ordeal ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^>

UPDATE 2-Insurgents seize, then leave government stronghold in northeast Nigeria
 

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