Four Nigerian troops killed in jihadist attack

Nigeria soldiers have been fighting jihadists in the country for more than a decade (AFP Photo/STEFAN HEUNIS)

Kano (Nigeria) (AFP) - Four Nigerian soldiers have been killed in an attack by IS-affiliated jihadists in the country's restive northeast, two security sources told AFP Thursday.

Fighters from the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) in trucks fitted with machine guns late Wednesday launched a "surprise attack" on troops in Auno village, 25 kilometres from Maiduguri, the Borno state capital, they said.

"Four soldiers were killed in the attack and seven were injured," said the first security source.

Another security official confirmed the attack.

"The terrorists came through the bush at the rear instead of the usual highway, taking troops by surprise," said the source who gave the same casualty toll.

The jihadists were said to have overwhelmed the troops, and went into the village, looting and burning shops before withdrawing.

It was not immediately clear whether the militants suffered any casualties.

ISWAP, which split from Boko Haram in 2016 has intensified attacks against the military since the middle of 2018, repeatedly carrying out deadly strikes against soldiers.

The group has also been abducting motorists at bogus checkpoints in Borno state, targeting security personnel, anti-jihadist militia as well as Christians.

Auno lies on the 120-kilometre highway linking Maiduguri and Damaturu, the capital of neighbouring Yobe state, which has also been repeatedly targeted by the militants.

Last week four soldiers were killed and 11 others injured when the jihadists attacked a military base in nearby Jakana.

The decade-long jihadist conflict has killed at least 35,000 people and displaced around two million from their homes in northeast Nigeria.

The violence has spread to neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon, prompting a regional military coalition to fight the insurgents.