MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (Reuters) – Nigeria’s Borno state government has asked for 300 militia to help the military clear out Islamist insurgents after they killed at least eight soldiers during an attack in the northeastern town of Malam Fatori on Saturday, security sources said.
The sources told Reuters on Wednesday that Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) attacked Malam Fatori on Saturday afternoon, killing eight soldiers and two policemen and injuring 25 soldiers and residents.
ISWAP confirmed the attack in a post on telegram on Wednesday, but claimed the death toll was 20 soldiers and that it had seized weapons and ammunition.
Borno governor Babagana Zulum convened a security meeting in the state capital Maiduguri on Tuesday and ordered 300 members of the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) to help the military in Malam Fatori, said a source who attended the meeting.
“The Borno state government in collaboration with the military have requested to involve 300 members of (CJTF) to join the military in the clearance operation in Malam Fatori,” said the source, who declined to be named because he was not authorised to speak to the media.
The CJTF is a loose group of pro-government militia that was formed in Maiduguri to fight Islamist insurgents.
Zulum’s spokesman Isa Gusau said security issues were confidential but added, “even though dealing with insurgents can be sometimes unpredictable, I am not aware that Malam Fatori needs the kind of clearance you referred to.”
Major Samson Nantip Zhakom, army spokesman for the Theatre Command force fighting the insurgency did not respond to requests for comment.
The military retook Malam Fatori in 2015 after it was overrun by insurgency a year before.
In May this year, the Borno state government said the town was safe enough for internally displaced persons to return, and resettled some families. Aid groups, however, say the town remains unsafe.
(Reporting by Maiduguri newsroom and Lanre Ola, additional reporting and writing by MacDonald Dzirutwe in Lagos, Editing by Bill Berkrot)
Copyright 2022 Thomson Reuters.