At least two Nigerian soldiers were killed in an ambush by Boko Haram jihadists targeting a civilian convoy close to the border with Cameroon, military and militia sources told AFP Friday.
Militants opened fire on a convoy of traders under military escort outside a village near the northeastern town of Nigeria soldiers killed in Boko Haram attack on convoy near Banki on Thursday, killing two soldiers and injuring seven traders, according to the sources.
“The [Boko Haram] terrorists ambushed the convoy around 6:00 p.m. [1700GMT] as it approached Banki and killed two of the soldiers providing cover for the convoy,” a military officer said.
“The attackers fired indiscriminately and seven civilians were injured,” the officer said.
The fighters seized a truck belonging to a humanitarian organisation during the ambush, but the driver managed to escape, according to a militia member in Banki, who gave a similar toll.
A militia member said the seized truck belonged to Intersos, an NGO representing the World Food Programme in Banki.
Lying on the Cameroon border around 130 km (80 miles) southeast of Borno state capital Maiduguri, Banki houses 45,000 people displaced by the Boko Haram conflict who live in a sprawling camp that opened in 2015 following raids on villages in the area.
Traders from Banki travel to Maiduguri twice a week under military escort to bring in supplies.
Insurgents continue to launch sporadic attacks in the town and ambush troops on the highway.
It was unclear which Boko Haram faction was responsible for Thursday’s attack.
Boko Haram split into two factions in mid-2016 over ideological differences. One, led by Abu Mus’ab Al-Barnawi, largely focuses on attacking military and government targets, while the other, led by Abubakar Shekau, is notorious for suicide bombings and indiscriminate killings of civilians.
Shekau has pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, but ISIS central gave its formal backing to the Barnawi faction, which is known as Islamic State West Africa Province.
On November 9, Shekau claimed a series of attacks in northeast Nigeria, including a November 4 attack on Nigerian soldiers in Kumshe village, near Banki. But two days earlier, ISIS also claimed that the attack was carried out by ISWA fighters.
Last October two Nigerian soldiers were killed when troops on foot patrol stepped on a mine around Kumshe village near Banki.
Boko Haram’s bloody insurgency began in northeastern Nigeria in 2009 but has since spread into neighbouring countries, prompting a regional military response.
In Nigeria alone, more than 27,000 people have been killed over the past decade, and some 1.8 million people have been forced out of their homes by the violence.