Armed terrorists of the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) stormed Mafa town in northeast Nigeria in the early morning hours of March 19 as election officials and party agents were collating the results from Saturday’s polls.
The rest of the populace, deep asleep in their respective homes and camps, were jolted awake by the sounds of gunfire from the attackers.
At least 40 of the terrorists were killed, many weapons were seized, including two trucks with heavy calibre guns attached, police and local militia sources told HumAngle.
Mafa town is about 40km away from Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state. It is the hometown of the state governor, Babagana Zulum, who is seeking reelection for a second term.
The town was destroyed by terrorists during the early years of the Boko Haram insurgency and has been rebuilt. Mafa continues to serve as a mega-camp for the internally displaced population whose hinterland communities are still inaccessible due to insecurity.
Hours before the attack, a HumAngle reporter monitored the elections in Mafa town and reported a large voter turnout in the dusty community.
The military has not issued any official statement on the attack, but the commissioner of police, Abdu Umar, who confirmed it to HumAngle in a phone chat, said, “I think their major target was to disrupt the votes collation process and cause some havoc.”
Local sources said the terrorists arrived at Mafa from Kusuma, Jibularam, and Kwalaram villages northeast of the Marte local government area.
Local security personnel informed HumAngle on the phone on Sunday morning that “the terrorists targeted the collation centre within the town as their first point of attack but thank God the military were well positioned to protect the centre.”
A combined deployment of troops from Sector 3 MNJTF, Operation Hadin Kai forces, and the Special Forces of Sector 4 Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) Niger Republic responded by engaging the attackers.
A military source, who spoke anonymously, said that the troops “were in good form during the night attack because we had already gotten vital intel that the terrorists might want to attack to disrupt the election process in Mafa.”
They also revealed that there were more than 70 terrorists who stormed the town in several gun trucks and motorcycles. They added that two gun trucks were recovered with the support of the Nigeria Air Force fighter jets.
HumAngle obtained an amateur video from one of the locals in Mafa town showing a jubilant resident celebrating the courage of the troops as they dragged two of the recovered gun trucks back to Mafa town.
“We didn’t know we were going to survive the attack as many of us had to flee towards the opposite direction of the attack and hid in the bushes till this morning,” said Rawa Goni, a resident of Mafa.
Babangida Ajiri, leader of a vigilante group known as CJTF, said, “We have seen more than 40 of their corpses as we moved in this morning to recover some of their abandoned vehicles and weapons.”
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