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Insurgents have their sights set on towns and villages in the south of Borno State

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Insurgents, thought to be members of the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), appear to have their sights set on towns and villages in the south of Borno State.

Two more villages – Pemu and Kwarahumho – in the Chibok Local Government Area came under attack on Tuesday, January 18.

Habu Musa, a resident of Pemu, told RNI reporter Aisha Jamal that the insurgents arrived at the village on 10 motorbikes at about 4.30pm. However, troops stopped them in their tracks and chased them away so that they could not access the village.

After the insurgents were chased away from Pemu, they headed to Kwarahumho where troops again repelled them.

“In Pemu the insurgents were not successful. But even though no one was killed or wounded, residents are still fearful that next time they will gain access to the village. They believe the insurgents could return at any time and they are ready to flee if the village is attacked again,” Musa said.

“In the rainy season the rivers are full and most of the routes linking the villages are blocked, but now, in this dry season, the waterways are open which gives insurgents the chance to enter from all directions to attack us.”

Another resident, Hamma Umar, said because most of the villagers were farmers, they had produced a bumper harvest in the region.

“Since late 2021, attacks have become common in the southern region because most farmers have yielded good harvests. The insurgents know this and they take the food, leaving the villagers with almost nothing.”

On Saturday, January 15 – the Army Remembrance Day in Nigeria, when the importance of the armed forces is celebrated and the fallen heroes commemorated – insurgents attacked the Tukur Buratai Institute for War and Peace, a research centre of the Nigerian Army University in Buratai village in the Biu Local Government Area.

A military source said soldiers killed a number of insurgents and captured one gun truck, an anti-aircraft weapon, a machine gun, a rocket-propelled grenade and several rounds of ammunition.

Muhammad Suleiman, a lecturer at the College of Education Waka Biu, said insurgents were adopting different tactics. “Just before Christmas, insurgents sent a letter threatening to attack the Michika Local Government Area of Adamawa State in the north. But it was just a tactic to try to divert the attention of troops so that they could attack elsewhere.”

A security analyst in Maiduguri, Khalifa Dikwa, said one of the aims of the insurgents was to make “a particular region look weak”.

He said that by changing tactics the insurgents were trying to fool the troops but the military was aware of this and had been able to repel the insurgents in recent attempted attacks.

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