Boko Haram terrorists overrun Rann near Nigeria border with Cameroon
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Boko Haram fighters attacked a military base in remote northeast Nigeria, setting fire to shelters for those made homeless by the conflict, military and humanitarian sources told AFP on Tuesday, January 15.
The attack in Rann, some 175 km (110 miles) northeast of the Borno state capital, Maiduguri, began late on Monday afternoon and forced civilians to flee.
It followed a pattern by the Islamic State West Africa Province faction of Boko Haram that has called into question government claims the group is virtually defeated.
A similar attempt was made to take over a military base in Magumeri, 50 km northwest of Maiduguri, on Sunday, a local community leader said.
A military source in the Borno state capital, Maiduguri, said the attack began at about 5:20 p.m. (1620 GMT) on Monday.
“The terrorists took over a military position in Rann following heavy fighting,” he said on condition of anonymity.
Nigerian government forces fled during the attack, Reuters reported security sources as saying.
According to Reuters’ sources, residents of the town also fled and the militants set buildings on fire.
Poor visibility because of seasonal Harmattan winds hampered the deployment of air force jets, and troops were forced to withdraw, he added.
Rann has been repeatedly attacked in the nine-year conflict. The town currently hosts some 35,000 internally displaced people, according to the International Organization for Migration.
On December 6, Boko Haram fighters attacked a military base in Rann, but it was unclear which faction they belonged to. After an hour’s heavy fighting, the militants were pushed out with aerial support, one security source told AFP.
“The terrorists went about setting fire to camps and shelters of IDPs. Most people have fled the town into the bush but we have no details of casualties at the moment.”
An aid worker in Maiduguri added: “We have been in touch with some aid workers in Rann, who said the town had been taken by ISWA and camps were being burned.
“They had to flee towards Bulale on the Cameroon side of the border. The details are sketchy.”
Boko Haram split into two factions in mid-2016 over ideological differences. One is led by Abu Mus’ab Al-Barnawi and largely focuses on attacking military and government targets, while the other, led by Abubakar Shekau, is notorious for suicide bombings and indiscriminate killings of civilians.
Shekau has pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, but ISIS central gave its formal backing to the Barnawi faction, which is known as Islamic State West Africa province.
ISWA has lately intensified its armed campaign, launching a number of major assaults on military targets in Borno and neighboring Yobe state amid signs of a takeover by more hardline leaders.
There have been dozens of attacks on military bases since July, most of which have been blamed on ISWA, or claimed by ISIS as ISWA attacks.
Source: Defence Post