Nigerian troops fought off Boko Haram militants as they tried to attack a military post near the home of the country’s most senior army officer, security sources and residents said on Friday.
Jihadist fighters attacked the position on Thursday night in Kamuya village, in the northeastern state of Borno, near where Chief of Army Staff Tukur Yusuf Buratai has a home.
“The terrorists made a failed attempt to overrun the military location” in preparation for an attack on the village, a military officer in the Borno state capital, Maiduguri, told AFP.
“The soldiers stood their ground and fought the terrorists for close to three hours and forced them to flee,” he said.
Civilian militia leader Mustapha Karimbe said the attack began at about 5pm (1600 GMT) on Thursday and lasted until about 8pm.
“Luckily the gunmen met stiff resistance from the soldiers,” said Karimbe from the town of Biu, some 30 kilometres (18 miles) away.
There were no immediate details about casualties.
It was also not clear which Boko Haram faction was behind the attack, although the IS-affiliated Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) is known to operate in the area.
Kamuya is the home town of Buratai’s mother and was twice raided by Boko Haram in December 2015, not long after the lieutenant general was appointed chief of army staff.
Nearby Buratai village, 10 kilometres away, was also hit.
The latest attack came days after Boko Haram overran a military base in the town of Rann, near the border with Cameroon, forcing thousands of civilians to flee.
Fourteen people, including three soldiers, were said to have been killed, while aid workers said buildings used by humanitarian organisations were razed to the ground.
The UN’s humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, on Friday said the attacks — and others like it — were having a “devastating impact” on civilians and the relief effort.
Some 1.8 million people are still homeless because of the insurgency, which began in 2009 and has killed more than 27,000.
The Rann attack was blamed on ISWAP but on Thursday night, the Boko Haram faction loyal to long-time leader Abubakar Shekau claimed responsibility in an eight-minute video. The video showed footage purportedly from the attack.