According to members of local militia, at least 59 people have been killed in an attack on a herding village in Nigeria’s Borno state.
Fighters drove into remote Felo village in Gubio district on Tuesday afternoon, shooting fleeing residents. The fighters razed the village and ran over villagers with their vehicles and razing the village. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
The attack is believed to be a reprisal for the killing of fighters by local vigilantes protecting the villagers’ herd from theft.
“It’s an unfortunate day, for us to witness this,” a Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) member, Kachallah Bumu said. While he said the residents were armed, and had repelled previous attacks, this one caught them off guard. “They took us unaware and killed our people,” he said.
Ibrahim Liman another militiaman said the fighters had been stealing livestock from the village. This is what prompted the residents to form a militia force to end the theft.
The vigilantes had been “hunting for the insurgents” in the bushes, killing some of them in gunfights, Liman said.
Gubio district, 80 kilometres from the regional capital Maiduguri, has been repeatedly targeted by armed groups. The incessant attacks prompted the authorities to send more than 100 vigilantes and local hunters to protect the town and nearby areas against incursions from armed groups, including Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), which broke away from the Boko Haram armed group in 2016.
ISWAP has intensified attacks against the military in the last two years, repeatedly carrying out deadly attacks against soldiers. However, ISWAP’s involvement in the latest attack has yet to be confirmed.