The Nigerian Army has appointed a new commander to lead the fight against Boko Haram jihadists in the country’s restive northeast, where attacks on military targets have spiked in recent months.
Major General Benson Akinroluyo has replaced Major General Abba Dikko as head of Operation Lafiya Dole, according to an army statement released at the weekend.
Akinroluyo becomes the fifth commander in two years to head the fight against the Islamist insurgents, who have staged a series of attacks on military bases, killing dozens.
Dikko was only appointed in July. Since then there have been at least nine attacks on military bases, most of them in the northern part of Borno state near the shores of Lake Chad.
Most have been blamed on or claimed by the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), an ISIS-backed faction of Boko Haram whose recent activities have prompted speculation the group has been taken over by hardliners.
The conflict has claimed more than 27 000 lives since 2009 and nearly two million people still cannot return to their homes in the Lake Chad region.
Despite government insistence that Boko Haram is near defeat, northeastern Nigeria is still hit by regular attacks.
On Saturday, hundreds of people were forced to flee their homes when Boko Haram raided Jimmi, a village near the key city of Maiduguri, torching homes and carting away livestock.
Meanwhile, Suspected Ugandan rebels killed six people, hacking one woman to death, and kidnapped five others – mostly children – in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s restive east, officials said on Sunday.
Officials blamed the two attacks in Beni near the country’s border with Uganda on the Ugandan Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), one of several armed movements operating in the region.
“They entered Beni in the night between Saturday and Sunday and killed five people and looted the shops and the homes,” Donat Kibwana, local Beni administrator, told AFP, blaming the ADF.
During separate attack by the same group in another Beni neighbourhood, a woman was hacked to death by machete and five people, including four children were kidnapped, Kizito Bin Hangi, a Beni civic leader, told AFP.
“We thought the military had a security cordon around the town, but nothing was done. It’s deplorable to leave the town defenceless,” Kizito said.
Soldiers were pursuing the rebels after they came under attack in Mayi-Moya and Beni, an army spokesperson said.
The Beni area has for the last four years been under seige from the ADF, an Islamist armed group that has killed hundreds of people since 2014.
The ADF was blamed for killing 15 Tanzanian UN peacekeepers a year ago in eastern DRC.
Unrest in eastern regions is running in parallel with another DRC conflict in central Kasai, casting a shadow over the country’s ability to stage presidential elections next month to replace Joseph Kabila.—News24.