Nigeria landmine blast kills 11 anti-jihadist militia fighters

AFP , Saturday 27 Apr 2024

Eleven militia fighters working alongside Nigeria's military to battle jihadists were killed Saturday in the country's northeast when their vehicle hit a landmine on a highway near the border with Cameroon, two militia sources told AFP.

Nigeria
Nigeria s militant conflict has gradually eased in intensity as the military carries out offensives against the militants. AFP

 

Jihadists in Nigeria are increasingly resorting to planting mines on highways to target military and civilian convoys after they were pushed back from territory they once controlled during the early years of the country's more than 15-year Islamist insurgency.

The militia fighters were escorting a civilian convoy from the town of Gamboru in Borno State to the regional capital Maiduguri when around 1230GMT their vehicle drove over a landmine suspected to have been planted by jihadists at Damno village, the two sources said.

"The rear tyres of the vehicle carrying 13 of our comrades hit a wide pothole in which a landmine was buried and it exploded," Shehu Mada, an anti-jihadist militia leader in Gamboru said. "Eleven people in the vehicle were killed while two escaped with injuries."

The victims were removed from the remains of the vehicle and returned to Gamboru for burial, said Usman Hamza, another militia who gave the same toll.

Nigeria's militant conflict has gradually eased in intensity as the military carries out offensives against the militants.

The Gamboru to Maiduguri highway is a strategic 140-kilometre (87-mile) trade route in the region, and provides an important link with neighbouring Cameroon.

The highway was reopened in July 2016 after it was shut by the military for two years due to incessant jihadist attacks.

Boko Haram and rival Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) still launch sporadic ambushes on convoys from their hideouts and plant landmines along the highway.

In January, 17 people were killed along the highway in two separate mine blasts that were blamed on jihadists. Ten more people were killed by a landmine in April.

Nigeria's grinding conflict has killed 40,000 and displaced around two million from their homes in the northeast since 2009. The violence has spilled over into neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon.

The recent military takeovers in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso and subsequent withdrawal of French and US troops from the Sahel to Nigeria's north have heightened concerns over regional instability and violence extending further into coastal West African states.

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