Gunmen from an IS-affiliated jihadist group on Tuesday shot dead 11
local construction workers in the North-East, a militia leader and
resident said.

The fighters belonging to Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP)
opened fire on the workers as they were laying telecom fibre optic
cables in Wajirko village, 150 kilometres (93 miles) outside Borno
state capital Maiduguri, they said.

"The insurgents came in the morning and opened fire on the workers,
killing 11 and injuring many," militia leader Mustapha Karimbe told
Agence France Presse.

He said the victims were locals contracted as casual labourers by a
telecom firm.

"The attackers had warned the labourers to stop working on laying the
cables but they ignored the warning because they needed money to feed
their families," Karimbe said from the town of Biu, 50 km away.

Those injured were taken to a hospital in the nearby town of Damboa, he said.

The jihadists "came around" on three separate occasions and warned the
men to stop the work which the group saw as a threat, said resident
Bukar Maduye.

"Our people are starving and the laying of the cables provides some of
us a good source of income which was why we ignored the warning," said
Maduye, who gave the same toll.

ISWAP is known to have a strong presence in Wajirko and neighbouring
areas although it is close to Sambisa forest, the major enclave of
rival Boko Haram jihadists.

The IS-supported jihadists have carried out several attacks targeting
Nigerian troops in the area.

In April, the militants looted and burnt a military base in Wajirko,
after fierce fighting with soldiers who were forced to withdraw.

Since then, troops have abandoned the base and the village was left
without protection save snap military patrols which are prone to
jihadist attacks.

In June, three soldiers were killed in an ISWAP ambush on a military
patrol near the village.

ISWAP split from Boko Haram in 2016 over ideological differences and
the latter's indiscriminate attacks on civilians.

ISWAP focuses its attacks on military targets.

However, the group has in recent months been accused of raiding
villages and looting food supplies.

The killing of the construction workers could be the group's first
such attack on civilians and it was unclear if it was an isolated case
or a shift in tactics.

The decade-long violence which has spilled into neighbouring Niger,
Chad, and Cameroon, has killed 35,000 people and displaced about two
million in Nigeria alone, prompting a regional military coalition to
fight the jihadist groups, reports AFP.

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