Two anti-jihadist militia commanders told AFP on Sunday that scores of fighters attempted to invade the town of Damboa late on Friday but met stiff resistance from the paramilitary outfit that works alongside the armed forces.
The attack is the latest in Nigeria’s 14-year jihadist conflict in the northeast, where 40,000 have died and more than two million have been displaced by the fighting since 2009.
“Out of desperation, the insurgents fired an RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) on the town from a distance, which killed five people and injured 11 others,” said Babakura Kolo, a militia leader in the region.
The five dead victims were buried on Saturday while the injured were flown to the regional capital Maiduguri aboard a helicopter for medical attention, said Ibrahim Liman, a second militia commander.
The army, whose troops were in the town guarding the military base, did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment.
Damboa, around 90 kilometres (55 miles) south of Maiduguri, which lies on the fringes of the Sambisa forest, a game reserve that has become a jihadist enclave, has been repeatedly targeted by fighters who attack residents and a military base.
Although the Boko Haram jihadist group and its rival, the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), commonly launch RPG attacks on military targets, they rarely use them on civilians.
Boko Haram has on several occasions fired volleys of rocket-propelled grenades on Maiduguri in bids to take over the city, the latest being in February 2021, when 10 people were killed and around 60 were injured, according to officials.
In February, on the day of a presidential election, at least five people were injured when jihadists fired several mortar bombs on voters from mountains overlooking the town of Gwoza on the border with Cameroon.
In September 2017, seven people were killed when Boko Haram jihadists in two pick-up trucks fired a rocket-propelled grenade into a displaced people’s camp housing some 80,000 people in the town of Ngala, also near the border with Cameroon.
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who came to power in May, has said tackling insecurity is a priority as troops battle jihadists and heavily armed criminal gangs while also trying to end intercommunal clashes and separatist tensions in various parts of the country.