Suspected Islamic sect members ambushed and killed at least 24 members of a youth vigilante group who were on a mission to find and fight the sect in northeast Nigeria, a security official said on Saturday.
Those who returned from Friday’s attack told officials that 36 other vigilantes were missing, the official said on condition of anonymity.
“The vigilante youths numbering more than 100 were on a mission to capture some Boko Haram terrorists in their camps around Kaleri, Shuwari, Maganari and Nannari villages around Monguno’s local government area, before they were ambushed by the terrorists,” he said.
The attack took place somewhere near Monguno town, 160km from the city of Maiduguri, the Borno state capital where the Boko Haram ideology sprang up about four years ago.
The vigilante group, known as the Civilian Joint Task Force (Civilian-JTF), said its attackers were wearing military uniforms. The official said the force usually gets a military escort when it goes on a search mission, but when the military did not arrive on time the vigilantes headed out.
They later told officials they saw three patrol vehicles painted in camouflage and approached them thinking they were the escorts. The sect members then opened fire, killing at least 24 Civilian-JTF members.
The Civilian-JTF has recently become a target for Boko Haram, an armed Islamic group that has been waging a bloody war in Africa’s most populous nation. Two recent attacks killed at least 20 members of the vigilante group, residents and an official said.