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World Insurgents capture Dikwa, the government stronghold in northeast Nigeria

19:35  02 march  2021
19:35  02 march  2021 Source:   sports.fr

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NIGERIA-S-CURIT-INSURRECTION: Insurgents capture Dikwa, the government stronghold in northeast Nigeria

MAIDUGURI, NIGERIA (Reuters) - Suspected Islamists attacked the northeastern Nigerian town of Dikwa, a military camp and a humanitarian center, security service sources, residents and an aid worker said on Tuesday.

Dikwa, which was not invaded according to an army spokesman, is home to nearly 100,000 people and is at the center of an 11-year conflict waged by the jihadist group Boko Haram and its pledging faction to the Islamic State, the Islamic State of the province of West Africa.

"We did our best to repel the attack but they have already overwhelmed us," said one soldier, describing the fighting which he said began on Monday evening.

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"We fled to the bush despite reinforcements from the Air Force," added the source who wished to remain anonymous, not being authorized to speak to the media.

Other sources, however, confirmed the capture of the city, including a member of the army, two sources from the Nigerian security service and two internationals, four residents and a humanitarian worker.

The military spokesman for his part said that the army had repelled an attack on Dikwa, and described as "false and sensational" reports that the insurgents had trapped aid workers.

The town of Dikwa is one of the army's "super-camps" - towns converted into defensive fortresses in 2019 to limit the number of military casualties, while ceding control of much of the countryside.

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Nigeria's security forces pushed the insurgents out of major northeastern cities in 2015 and 2016, but they now face security challenges in the increasingly reluctant northern states.

Last week, militants threw rocket-propelled grenades at the northeast's largest city, Maiduguri, while marauding armed gangs in the northwest have kidnapped more than 600 schoolchildren in the past three months, including 279 girls released on Tuesday.

No super camp had yet fallen into the hands of the jihadists before last January, when the town of Marte was invaded, before being taken back last week.

Residents of Dikwa said the attackers wore military uniforms and proclaimed themselves "soldiers of the caliphate", a term used by the West African branch of the Islamic State.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack on the town which, like many super camps, serves as a protection center for populations displaced by conflict, where aid groups are building camps and distributing food.

The attackers rounded up residents and said they were against military and anti-Islamic forces, according to three residents.

Insurgents also burned or damaged the premises of aid agencies and a hospital, said a Nigerian security source and Edward Kallon, the UN representative in Nigeria, citing reports.

"I am gravely concerned at reports of a continuing violent attack by non-state armed groups in Dikwa," Edward Kallon said in a statement. "I strongly condemn this attack and I am deeply concerned for the safety of civilians," he said.

(Written in Maiduguri; Paul Carsten in Abouja; French version Dagmarah Mackos, Kate Entringer, edited by Jean-Michel Bélot)

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This is interesting!