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After spending two years in IDPs’ camps, 100 villagers taken hostage by ISWAP in Borno

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THE Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorists have forcefully taken into hostage about 100 people in the Kukawa Local Government Area of Borno State.

The militants arrived in the town with 22 trunks on Tuesday evening and carted away about 100 residents from the town barley weeks they were resettled back in the town by the Borno State Government after spending nearly two years in Internal Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps, France 24 quoted Agence France Presse (AFP) as reported.

Eyewitness said the terrorists engaged the soldiers guarding the town in a fierce gun battle before they eventually went away with the seized people.

“The terrorists attacked the town in 22 trucks around 4:00 pm (1600GMT) yesterday and engaged soldiers guarding the town in a fierce battle,” said Babakura Kolo, head of the local vigilante group.

A local chief who accompanied the residents to the town said the people had returned with the hope of cultivating their farmlands “only to end up in the hands of the insurgents”.

“We don’t know what they would do to them but I hope they don’t harm them,” said the chief, who asked not to be identified for safety reasons. 

However, the Nigerian military says it carried out airstrikes on Wednesday killing some of ISWAP commanders and destroying their logistics facility at Bukar Meram on the fringes of Lake Chad Basin,  Borno State.

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John Enenche, head of Defence Media Operations, in a statement said the airstrike was carried out after a diligent surveillance of the area, noting that not less than 20 terrorists were taken out during the strike.

Enenche said the air interdiction missions were executed on August 17 on the heels of credible intelligence reports indicating a resurgence of terrorists’ activities in the two settlements.

“Bukar Meram, a major ISWAP logistics hub linking other Island settlements of the Lake Chad, which also houses several of their fighters and some of their key leaders, was attacked by an enhanced force package of Nigerian Air Force (NAF) fighter jets and helicopter gunships which hit designated targets in the area leading to the destruction of the logistics facilities and neutralization of several of the terrorists and their leaders,” he said.

“The attack at Dole was carried out after Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions showed a build-up of activities in the area after the relocation of some terrorists from nearby settlements of Kokiwa and Yale. Overhead the area the ISR aircraft spotted no fewer than 20 terrorists in the area, which were taken out by the NAF attack aircraft.”

Meanwhile, a journalist who has been reporting insurgency for many years in Borno state has denied the report of an abduction.

Hamza Suleiman, NAN reporter in Maiduguri, said the report of the abduction is “a blatant lie”.

“The Alleged abduction of IDPs in Kukawa by Boko Haram terrorist was a blatant lie… As it stands, only two IDPs were hit by a stray bullet while the casualties in the attack were the military themselves.”

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Suleiman expressed concern about the report, stressing that no IDP was abducted in Kukawa. “Most of the IDPs who escaped the attack are currently in Baga road. People can go and confirm this from the victims themselves,” he posted on his Facebook wall.

When The ICIR called Suleiman,  he said seven soldiers were killed and four wounded in a battle that lasted for nearly three hours, according to a soldier who participated in the gun battle against the insurgents. Also, a survivor of the attack disclosed that two civilians were wounded by stray bullets, Suleiman told The ICIR.

He said targets are not the IDPs whom ISWAP considers as having neither economic or political value.

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