Three Nigerian soldiers have been reportedly killed and two military vehicles seized by the Islamic State West Africa province(ISWAP), in an attack in Borno State.

According  to  security sources and residents, fighters from the ISWAP stormed into the town of Askira late Friday in a dozen pickup trucks fitted with machine guns, leading to clashes with troops and local vigilantes.

“Our men repelled the terrorists but we lost three soldiers and two trucks,” a military official said, adding that the insurgents suffered “heavy casualties”, without giving a toll.

Vigilante Adamu Galadima said an ambush was laid for the jihadists following information they were heading to the town.

“It was an intense fight and they were forced to withdraw. Three soldiers were killed and five residents were injured by stray bullets,” he said.
Another vigilante, Peter Malgwui, said the retreating jihadists raided Kilangar village, 15 kilometres (10 miles) away, looting drugs from a clinic and burning it.

On Sunday, ISWAP released a statement claiming it killed seven Nigerian troops and seized three vehicles in the Askira attack.

ISWAP, which split from the Boko Haram jihadist group in 2016, has focused on targeting military installations and troops since mid-2018.

Askira Uba district, which lies near Boko Haram’s Sambisa forest stronghold, has witnessed repeated jihadist attacks.

The decade-long violence has killed 36,000 people in the northeast and displaced around two million from their homes, creating a dire humanitarian crisis.

The conflict has spread to neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon, prompting a regional military response to combat the jihadist groups.