Jihadists seize military base in northeast Nigeria

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Jihadists aligned with Islamic militant group have captured a base Nigeria’s after overnight clashes with troops, sources told AFP Saturday.

Machine-gun wielding fighters from Islamic West Africa Province () attacked base town Marte the Lake Chad area overnight Friday into Saturday, two sources said.

“The priority now is to reclaim the base from the terrorists and an is underway,” one the sources said.

“We took a hit from terrorists. They raided the base in Marte after a fierce battle.”

The second source said the army “incurred losses” but it not yet clear how many people had died or the level destruction inflicted by the insurgents.

, which split from Boko Haram in 2016, maintains camps islands in Lake Chad — where Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad meet — and the area is known to be group’s bastion.

Last week, the jihadists attacked the Marte base but were repelled, prompting them to mobilise more fighters for the overnight raid, said the sources.

The raid seen as a “fightback” after recent losses — troops recently overran ISWAP’s second largest camp in Talala village, said the sources.

In November last year, officials began the phased of residents to Marte six years after they were pushed out by the jihadists.

The town, 130 kilometres (80 miles) from the regional capital , once considered the breadbasket of the Lake Chad .

At least 36,000 people have been killed in the jihadist conflict since 2009 and violence has spread into neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon, prompting a regional coalition.