According to militia sources, jihadists have killed at least 23 men in Nigeria’s northeast Borno state in the latest carnage to rock the conflict-ridden region.
The men were apprehended by Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) fighters on Tuesday while searching for scrap metal in the Magdala village in the Dikwa district as part of a 50-strong gang, they added.
The event was first revealed on Thursday because jihadists destroyed telecom towers in the area, which hampered communication in the area.
“At this time, 23 dead have been discovered, all of whom were slain by terrorists,” militia chief Babakura Kolo told AFP.
“Three people returned to Dikwa, but the fate of the other 24 remains unknown,” he stated.
According to another militiaman, Ibrahim Liman, there were suspicions that the missing soldiers had been kidnapped by militants.
The missing individuals “might have been shot dead while attempting to leave,” he said, adding that search teams were scanning the undergrowth.
The Nigerian military has recently increased land and air strikes against ISWAP and its competitor Boko Haram, claiming the deaths of numerous high-ranking commanders.
According to the militiamen, the jihadists accuse metal scavengers of leaking information about their positions to the military, therefore this week’s executions could have been retaliation.
30 metal scavengers were killed by jihadists in Mudu village in the same district last month.
In 2016, ISWAP broke away from Boko Haram’s mainstream.
Civilians, particularly loggers, farmers, and herders, have been increasingly targeted by the two factions, who accuse them of espionage for the military and local militias fighting them.
According to the United Nations, Islamist violence in the northeast has killed over 40,000 people and displaced approximately two million people since 2009.
The majority of the displaced people live in camps and rely on aid agencies for food, forcing many of them to down trees for firewood and scavenge for metal scraps, which they then sell to buy food.
Despite humanitarian agencies’ fears about their safety, local authorities have been returning displaced people to their homes.
The conflict had expanded to Niger, Chad, and Cameroon, resulting in the formation of a regional alliance.
The terrorists had moved their brutality to neighboring Niger, Chad, and Cameroon, prompting the formation of a regional military alliance to combat them.
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