More than a hundred villagers in Marte, Borno state are being held as human shield by suspected members of the Islamic State in West African Province (ISWAP).
Military sources told a representative that the insurgents overran communities in the area, and while most of the villagers ran away for safety, some were held by the insurgents.
Those held, sources said, are being used as shield against possible military air strikes.
“Marte and its environs, down up to Dikwa is a key area for ISWAP because they are border communities which make easy for the insurgents to move in and out,” one of the sources said.
“So, when they attacked, they took over the area. Those villagers held are being used as human shields from military offensives.
“I can tell you that the military had advanced to clear that area. The soldiers on ground are in close range, but air strikes, from the NAF air support, have been put on hold to avoid casualties on the civilians held hostage.
“If it were just the insurgents, that area would have been cleared immediately.”
It is not clear yet how the military intends to go about this. Mohammed Yerima, army spokesperson, was not immediately available to comment on the development.
At the time Marte was being attacked, troops had repelled a similar attack on their base in Dikwa.
Following these attacks, Ibrahim Attahiru, chief of army staff, had given troops 48 hours to recapture all areas held by the insurgents.
“Areas around Marte, Chikingudo, Kirenowa, up to Kirta, Wulgo must be cleared in the next 48 hours. Be rest assured of all the support required in this very onerous task,” the army chief had said.
“You are aware of the recent attack on Dikwa and Marte, you should not allow this to happen again, go after them and clear these bastards.”