File: Nigerian soldiers on patrol. AFP
KANO - At least 10 people were killed when jihadists attacked a northeast Nigerian town, burning down a UN office and prompting thousands to flee across the border into Niger, local officials and the UN said on Thursday.
Fighters from the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) stormed Damasak in Borno state on Wednesday, the third assault on the town in a week, military sources and residents said.
Militants attacked Damasak's garrison as residents were breaking fast on the second day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, clashing with troops before being forced to retreat and moving into the town itself.
"The destruction the insurgents wrought on Damasak this time is unprecedented," local government chairman Mustapha Bunu Kolo told AFP.
"They engaged the troops in a firefight but were made to withdraw with aerial support."
Kolo and another local official said ten people were killed in the attack.
The UN refugee agency earlier said eight people were killed and another 12 wounded, with preliminary reports showing 8,000 fleeing residents had reached the Niger towns of Chetimari and Gagamari.
"According to preliminary reports from our partners on the ground, the armed men also burned down several buildings, including a police station, a clinic, residences of local dignitaries and UNHCR's Protection Desk," it said.
Its statement said the full scale of displacement was still unclear as the humanitarian groups withdrew staff due to insecurity.
Nigeria's military has struggled for more than a decade to end a jihadist insurgency in the northeast that has also spilt over into neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
At least 36,000 people have been killed and two million have been displaced in Nigeria alone.