At least 11 civilians were killed when IS-aligned jihadists invaded a town in northeast Nigerian Yobe state, an official and residents told AFP on Saturday.
Fighters from the Islamic State West Africa Province in eight trucks fitted with machine guns stormed the town of Geidam as residents were preparing to break their Ramadan fast on Friday, leading to a gun fight with troops from a nearby base.
‘We lost 11 people in the terrorist invasion and the gunmen are still in the town,’ Ali Kolo Kachalla, Geidam political administrator, said.
‘Our people are trapped in the town and soldiers have been prevented from leaving,’ Kachalla said by phone from the state capital Damaturu.
The victims were killed when a projectile hit two adjoining homes in the Samunaka neighbourhood of the town during the fighting between troops and the extremists, residents said.
‘A projectile fell on the two houses, killing all the 11 occupants, six from one house and five from the other,’ said resident Babagana Kyari.
The extremists destroyed telecom masts in the town, save a few from a mobile carrier, making communications limited.
‘The insurgents looted provision stores before setting them on fire,’ said resident Ari Sanda, adding the fighters seized a military armoured vehicle and destroyed three trucks.
Soon after they entered the town on Friday, a fighter jet deployed and engaged the extremists who hid among the civilian population to evade aerial attack, the sources said.
On Saturday the jihadists came out of hiding and were joined by more of their comrades who arrived in the town in trucks, the residents said.
‘They are still in the town, they are camping under trees, with some of them sleeping,’ said Kyari.
Despite assurances they would not harm civilians, residents remained indoors while some tried to flee.
Troops have blocked the road out of town, preventing panicked residents from leaving, prompting some to trek into the bush while others took boats to the other side the river to escape, said residents.
‘Our people want to leave town but soldiers are preventing them without chasing the insurgents out, leaving our people in danger,’ Kachalla said.
Geidam, around 130kms from Damaturu, has been repeatedly raided by the jihadists, including the military base where they killed troops and carted away weapons.
The jihadist conflict which started in 2009 has killed 36,000 people and displaced around two million from their homes in the northeast, according to the UN.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Africa