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Gunmen kill 22 Nigerian security personnel, says state lawmaker By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILEPHOTO: This picture illustrates an Islamic State flag. It was taken on February 18, 2016. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo

ABUJA (Reuters) -Gunmen killed at least 22 security personnel at a remote army base in a northwestern Nigerian state plagued by bandits and kidnappers, a lawmaker said.

Aminu Gobir said and another security source that on Sunday bandits attacked the Sokoto state base near the Niger border, killing fourteen soldiers, five police officers, and three members of civil defence forces.

An earlier statement by the army claimed that soldiers had defeated militants of Islamic State West Africa Province, (ISWAP), and had killed many. Major General Benjamin Sawyerr, a spokesperson for the Armed Forces said that security forces suffered losses but did not provide any details.

Reuters couldn’t independently verify the accounts. This clash occurred in an area that is dangerously unsafe for travel because of the possibility of abductions and attacks. In order to support a military campaign against bandit camps, the authorities shut down all telecoms networks.

Northwestern (NASDAQ.) Nigeria is being hit hard by an influx of mass abductions. The authorities blame the bandits who are seeking ransom.

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Sawyerr didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment about the conflicting accounts.

According to his statement, the ISWAP and bandits were disrupted by the raid in northwest.

He said that the “aggressive operations of troops… as seen in recent months at the northwest region have been a thorn and the flesh of bandits” without going into detail.

Sokoto is located in Nigeria’s northwest corner and far away from Islamist insurgents usual areas of operation in northeastern Borno State.

ISWAP broke away from Boko Haram five years ago. Both factions have been fighting each other, as well as the Nigerian army.

A United Nations report estimates that the conflict lasted 12 years and has resulted in 300,000. Millions of people being dependent upon aid.

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