The death toll from a jihadist attack on the convoy of the regional governor of northeastern Nigeria has risen to 30, security sources said on Saturday.
Two sources told AFP deaths from Friday’s attack in the returning Borno state had doubled as more bodies were found and now included 12 police officers, five soldiers, four members of a government-backed militia and nine civilians.
“The number has risen to 30 as many corpses were picked in the surrounding areas after the attack,” said one of the sources, adding that “many people were injured”.
Sources had previously told AFP that a convoy carrying Borno Governor Babagana Umara Zulum was attacked by rebels on Friday near the town of Baga on the shores of Lake Chad.
Another security source reported the same death of 30 from the attack, saying the militants seized eight vehicles.
“The terrorists escaped with an armored personnel carrier, a gun car and six sports cars in the convoy,” the source said.
Police confirmed in a statement that the attack by suspected jihadists on the “security convoy” had killed eight police officers and three government-backed militia members.
It said 13 other people had been injured and the attack was “successfully repelled”.
IS-affiliated group intensifies its attacks
Zulum – who sources said was unharmed in the attack – had flown to the area to prepare for the return of residents displaced from Baga by the conflict.
He drove in the convoy accompanied by officials under tight security towards Baga before the returnees arrived.
The IS-affiliated ISWAP group (Islamic State West Africa Province) maintains most of its camps on islands in Lake Chad, and the region is known as a bastion for the jihadists. The militant group has recently intensified attacks on military and civilian targets in the region.
In July, Zulum’s convoy was attacked by ISWAP outside Baga, forcing him to cancel his trip to the city.
The decade-long uprising in northeastern Nigeria has killed 36,000 people and forced over 2 million from their homes.
Most of the displaced have become housed in poor camps, where they depend on food distributions from international charities.
Local authorities have encouraged displaced people to return to their homes despite aid organizations’ concerns about the safety risk.
ISWAP splintered from the largest Boko Haram group in 2016 and remains the dominant rebel force in the region.