Armed fighters have taken hundreds of hostages in a northeast Nigerian town where residents had only just returned after fleeing their homes, residents and militia sources said on Wednesday.
The Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) group, a splinter group of Boko Haram, overran the town of Kukawa in Borno state late on Tuesday, the sources told the AFP news agency.
They seized residents who had returned to the town in a government operation on August 2, after spending nearly two years in displacement camps, said Babakura Kolo, head of a local militia.
“The terrorists attacked the town in 22 trucks around 4:00 pm (16:00 GMT) yesterday and engaged soldiers guarding the town in a fierce battle,” he said.
Kukawa’s residents had returned to their homes just 16 days earlier under military escort, on the orders of the Borno state authorities.
They had been living in camps in the regional capital Maiduguri, 180km (120 miles) away, where they fled following a bloody attack in November 2018.