Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 February 2020

Militants kill at least 30 and abduct dozens in north-east Nigeria

Terrorists burnt travellers alive in their cars on Sunday night

Cars in Auno torched by suspected members of Islamic State West Africa Province during an attack on February 9, 2020. AFP
Cars in Auno torched by suspected members of Islamic State West Africa Province during an attack on February 9, 2020. AFP

Extremists killed at least 30 people and abducted women and children in north-east Nigeria’s Borno state, a regional government spokesman said on Monday.

The attack on Sunday night was in Auno, on a motorway leading to the regional capital Maiduguri.

The terrorists stormed in on trucks mounted with heavy weapons, killing, burning and looting before kidnapping women and children, state government spokesman Ahmad Bundi said.

They torched the vehicles of travellers who had stopped for the night, leaving the smouldering wreckage of lorries, buses and cars lining the road.

Most of those killed were motorists and 18 vehicles were destroyed, Mr Bundi said after visiting the scene.

The assault, about 25 kilometres west of Maiduguri, occurred in an area where fighters from ISIS's West Africa Province have been active, mounting roadblocks to target security forces and civilians.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

“Many of the drivers and their assistants who were sleeping in the vehicles were burnt alive,” said Babakura Kolo, a member of a state-backed militia.

The extremists combed the village, looting and burning shops and property before withdrawing, Mr Kolo told AFP.

He said the militants took away buses carrying women and children to Maiduguri that had parked in the village for the night.

“We still don’t know how many women and children they took away but the number is huge,” Mr Kolo said.

Auno lies on the 120km highway linking Maiduguri to Damaturu, a large city in neighbouring Yobe state.

The highway has been increasingly targeted by militants in recent months.

Extremists disguised as soldiers have set up roadblocks to abduct and kill passing motorists and their passengers, especially Christians and members of the security forces.

The UN has complained of a surge of violent attacks in recent weeks across the conflict zone.

At least 30 people were killed in Borno last month after a homemade bomb exploded on a bridge.

The decade-long insurgency has killed 36,000 people and displaced about two million from their homes in north-east Nigeria.

The terrorists have split into rival factions: one is affiliated to ISIS and the other loyal to Boko Haram.

The violence has spread to neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon, prompting the creation of a regional military coalition to fight the insurgents.

Updated: February 11, 2020 04:07 PM

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