At least 23 civilian force members killed in northern Nigeria

    At least 23 members of Nigeria's civilian joint task force were killed on Saturday in separate attacks by militants and an armed kidnapping gang in the north, two officials from the force said on Sunday.

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    In northeast Borno state, the heartland of an Islamist insurgency, suspected Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) fighters used an improvised explosive device (IED) to blow up a vehicle carrying the Civilian Joint Tast Force (CJTF) team, a local force chairman said.

    The CJTF was first formed in 2013 to protect communities in the northeast and help the military fight Boko Haram and later its offshoot ISWAP. The force has since been extended to other northern states that are grappling with armed kidnapping gangs.

    Tijjanima Umar, CJTF chairman for Gamboru Ngala area near the border with Cameroon, said his team was travelling to Borno state capital Maiduguri when they drove over the IED.

    “As the mine blew up, nine of them died instantly … while two other people had severe injuries and were immediately taken to hospital for treatment,” Umar told.

    The Nigerian military was not immediately available to comment.

    Although severely curtailed by Nigerian security forces, Boko Haram and ISWAP still carry out deadly attacks against civilians and the military.

    In northwestern Soko state, 14 CJTF members were killed and several were missing following an ambush by gunmen on Saturday, task force sector commandant Ismail Haruna told.

    Haruna said the CJTF members were killed in Sokoto’s Isa local government area, where they had raided and destroyed a bush camp belonging to a known armed kidnapping gang leader.

    The gang quickly regrouped and ambushed the CJTF as they drove back to Sokoto state capital, he added.


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