The Islamic State-linked jihadists were reported to have attacked humanitarian facilities in the north-eastern town of Damasak, Borno State, the second in two months affecting one of the United Nations (UN) nine hubs across the country.
It was gathered that the fighters from the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) stormed Damasak on Saturday evening and set facilities of international aid organisations ablaze.
“ISWAP fighters are still inside Damasak, moving on the streets, firing guns and setting humanitarian facilities on fire,” said an aid worker who asked not to be identified.
The UN hub was gutted after fire set on the nearby office of an international charity spread to the UN facility, said a second aid worker.
The offices of three other international Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) were also burnt by the insurgents who took over the town, the second aid worker added.
As gathered, the ongoing fire burning in the vicinity of an NGO warehouse was said to have escalated into humanitarian hub facilities,
A military source confirmed the Saturday attack on Damasak but said militants failed to overrun the town, saying, the law enforcement agency engaged them.
“They came through the town towards the Brigade but they were repelled,” the military officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity, without providing details.
Damasak has repeatedly been targeted by ISWAP militants who have made several failed attempts to overrun a military outpost outside the town.
ISWAP, which split from the jihadist group Boko Haram in 2016, has become a dominant threat in Nigeria, attacking soldiers and bases while killing and kidnapping passengers at bogus checkpoints.
It would be recalled that last month, ISWAP jihadists overran a UN hub in Dikwa, killing six civilians and forcing aid workers to temporarily retreat from the town despite urgent humanitarian needs.
Due to worsening security, humanitarian workers in Nigeria are struggling to provide aid, with the number of people requiring urgent assistance forecast to rise to 8.7 million this year.
President Muhammadu Buhari reshuffled the military command this year, raising hopes of a shift in strategy to end a 12-year-old conflict that has killed 36,000 people and forced around two million to flee their homes.