Kano – Seventeen people have been killed in suspected jihadist attacks in northern Nigeria, where a more than decade-long Islamist insurgency has claimed tens of thousands of lives, sources said on Thursday.
Around two dozen fighters dressed in military-like uniform and believed to be from the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) group sneaked on foot into Geidam town in Yobe state late on Wednesday, militia sources said.
They rounded up nine people in a bar in and slaughtered them, some with their hands tied behind their back, militiaman Gremah Bukar told AFP.
“They killed nine people at the bar, including two women and a retired police officer,” he said.
The jihadists also forced their way into the staff living quarters of a technical college, killing two people and torching buildings, said Bukar, in an account supported by another militiaman, Abubakar Adamu.
Residents who saw the attackers mistook them for troops from a base in the town, said resident Babagana Kyari.
Ari Sanda, another resident, said the jihadists came through the eastern part of the town which had been left unguarded and people who saw them leave thought they were bona-fide troops.
Both residents gave the same death toll.
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Geidam, close to the Niger border, has been repeatedly raided by the jihadists, including the military base where they killed troops and carted away weapons.
Separately, ISWAP claimed responsibility for a deadly attack on a bar in Taraba state an area in northern Nigeria outside their typical zone of operations.
Police said three people died and 19 were injured on Tuesday when an explosive device went off at a bar.
State policeman Usman Abdullahi told AFP on Thursday that three of the injured had died, bringing the death toll to six.
In a statement released in Arabic on Wednesday, the jihadist group said it had detonated the bomb, “killing and wounding nearly 30 Christians and damaging the bar”.
The statement, translated by SITE Intelligence which monitors jihadist activities worldwide, said the attack was “revenge” for the death of two of the group’s leaders, without giving further details.
The blast occurred in a crowded open-air moonshine bar in the town of Iware.
ISWAP has become the dominant threat in northeast Nigeria since the death of Abubakar Shekau in May 2021 , the former leader of rival group Boko Haram.
More than 40 000 people have died and around two million have fled their homes since Boko Haram launched the insurgency in 2009.
Nigeria’s military has scaled up its offensive ahead of the rainy season which starts next month, killing high-profile commanders in recent air strikes on the group’s camps.
Taraba is located in the eastern central part of Nigeria and has not experienced any jihadist attacks since 2014.
However, the state is a hotspot for kidnappings for ransom by criminal gangs, known locally as bandits.
There has been growing concern about increasing ties between jihadists and bandits who are motivated by financial motives with no ideological leaning.
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