MAIDUGURI, Nigeria, Nov. 13 (Reuters) – A Nigerian army general and three soldiers were killed on Saturday in an attack by extremists from the Islamic State of West Africa (ISWAP) in the northeast of the country, the army and sources said.
ISWAP split from Boko Haram five years ago and pledged allegiance to the Islamic State and fought against the Nigerian armed forces.
Army spokesman Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu said soldiers encountered ISWAP fighters in the local administrative area of Askira Uba of Borno state, where a fierce battle took place and several extremists were killed.
“Unfortunately, a gallant senior brigadier general Dzarma Zirkusu and three soldiers paid the supreme sacrifice … because they provided reinforcement in a counter-offensive against the terrorists,” Nwachukwu said in a statement.
Borno state is at the center of the Islamist insurgency, which has spread to neighboring Chad and Cameroon and left some 300,000 people dead and millions dependent on aid, the United Nations says.
Military sources and residents said ISWAP fighters attacked Askira on Saturday morning with at least 12 gun trucks, burning houses, shops and a school and forcing some residents to flee.
The army brought reinforcements but the fighting continued as evening approached, sources said.
Askira is about 150 kilometers south of Borno state capital Maiduguri and is located along the edges of Sambisa Forest, the operational base of both Boko Haram and ISWAP.
Security sources said ISWAP fighters also separately attacked soldiers near the town of Maiduguri, but there were no immediate details about casualties.
The Nigerian army said last month that it had killed the new ISWAP leader in a military operation, weeks after an announcement of the death of former group leader Abu Musab al-Barnawi. Read more
Reporting by Maiduguri editorial staff, Lanre Ola in Maiduguri and Camillus Eboh in Abuja Writing by MacDonald Dzirutwe Editing by Mark Potter
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