Islamist militants attacked a facility housing aid groups in north-east Nigeria at the weekend in what the UN warned is an escalation in violence targeting aid workers.
It was not immediately clear which militant group was responsible for Saturday’s attack in Ngala, near the Cameroon border. A more than decade-long insurgency by Islamist groups in north-eastern Nigeria killed 36 000 people and left more than seven million needing humanitarian assistance.
Three witnesses told Reuters at least 20 displaced people were killed in the attack on the facility where aid workers live and provide assistance.
A UN statement said its five staff members there at the time were not harmed.
“I am shocked by the violence and intensity of this attack, the latest of too many incidents directly targeting humanitarian workers and the assistance we provide,” UN humanitarian co-ordinator Edward Kallon said.
The insurgents struck on Saturday, shooting from their convoy of vehicles carrying explosives and pick-up trucks fitted with anti-aircraft guns as it entered the town, according to witnesses.
Staff at the facility escaped before militants overpowered Nigerian security forces guarding the compound, said Bakaka Mallam Bor, who saw the attack.
“A few minutes later they detonated the car filled with explosives, setting the hub ablaze and burning vehicles,” Bor said.
Kallon said aid workers are increasingly targeted by militant groups, noting 12 were killed in 2019, double the previous year with two still in captivity.
On December 22, unknown militants killed at least 10 people in a convoy in northern Nigeria in an attack sources told Reuters targeted Christians and those associated with international aid groups.