Insurgents from the Islamic State group West Africa Province (ISWAP), affiliated to Boko Haram, attacked Kukawa in the Lake Chad region late on August 18, seizing hundreds of people who had just returned to their homes 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 (1600GMT) yesterday and engaged soldiers guarding the town in a fierce battle,” he said.
Residents of Kukawa, escorted by the military, had returned to the town just on August 2, on the orders of the Borno state authorities.
They had been living in camps in the regional capital Maiduguri, 180 kilometers away, where they fled following a brutal attack in November 2018.
A local chief who accompanied the residents to the town said the people had returned with the hope of cultivating their farmlands “only to end up in the hands of the insurgents”.
“We don’t know what they would do to them but I hope they don’t harm them,” said the chief, who asked not to be identified for safety reasons.
A security source who confirmed the incident to AFP said fighter jets were deployed from Maiduguri on August 19 to “tackle the situation”, without giving further details.