SUSPECTED Boko Haram jihadists have overrun a military base and looted a nearby town in northeast Nigeria, security sources and residents said Tuesday, the latest such attack in the restive region.
The raids came a day after 30 people were killed on Sunday in a triple suicide bombing in the region that also bore the hallmarks of Boko Haram.
Boko Haram’s decade-long campaign of violence has killed 27,000 people and displaced about two million in Nigeria.
Late on Monday assailants, arriving on nine armoured trucks stormed into the military base outside the town of Gajiram, 80 kilometres (50 miles), north of the Borno state capital Maiduguri.
They were suspected to be from IS-affiliated Boko Haram faction known as the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP).
“They dislodged troops from the base after a fight,” a security source told AFP.
“We don’t know the extent of damage and looting in the base. An assessment is being carried out”.
It was not immediately clear if there were any casualties.
Residents said the Islamists drove into the town after sacking the base and looted shops, shooting into the air.
Their presence forced residents to flee into the bush while others shut themselves in their homes.
“The gunmen drove into the town around 6pm (1700GMT) after overpowering soldiers in the base,” Gajiram resident Mele Butari told AFP.
“They stayed for almost five hours. They broke into the shops and looted food supplies and provisions,” he said.
“They didn’t hurt anyone and they made no attempt to attack people who fled into the bush or hid indoors”.
Soldiers were seen returning to the town from the bush Tuesday morning.
Traffic on the main road through Gajiram was suspended as soldiers assessed the damage in the base, said residents who returned to the town.
Gajiram lies on the highway linking Maiduguri and the garrison town of Monguno, 55 kilometres away.
Gajiram and the nearby base have been repeatedly attacked by the insurgents.
In June last year, ISWAP raided the same base, killing nine soldiers.
ISWAP has targeted dozens of military bases since last year, killing scores of soldiers.
Last week, several troops were killed in an ISWAP attack on a remote base in Kareto village, near the border with Niger, according to military sources.
Sunday’s suicide bombings occurred in the town of Konduga, 38 kilometres from Maiduguri.
The attacks appeared to be the work of a Boko Haram faction loyal to longtime leader Abubakar Shekau.
Boko Haram violence has spilt over into neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon, prompting the formation of a regional military coalition to defeat the jihadist group.