When suspected Boko Haram militants snuck into Monguno in Borno state on Tuesday, January 7, 2020, they first posed as a convoy of soldiers.
Once inside Monguno however, they went for the soldiers guarding the northeastern community, destroyed at least 750 homes and sent residents scampering into surrounding bushes.
When the dust settled in Monguno and gunpowder grew cold at dusk, about 20 soldiers had been killed and nearly 1,000 people rendered homeless, according to two residents and a military source who spoke to Reuters.
ISWAP claims responsibility
One Monguno resident who identified himself as Gumati Sadu said people fled into the bush for safety during the fighting.
Sadu added that three civilians were killed by stray bullets.
At the time of filing this, a military spokesman has declined to comment.
Boko Haram splinter group, Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), claimed responsibility for the attack on its Amaq news agency.
According to ISWAP, one of its militants detonated a car bomb in the town, killing at least 8 soldiers and destroying 3 armored vehicles.
The group also said it had seized a vehicle, weapons and ammunition before exiting the town.
ISWAP split from terrorist Boko Haram sect in 2016 over operational differences and has since staged its own frequent attacks in the region.
War without end
Boko Haram has waged a war against the Nigerian state since 2009.
The decade-long insurgency has killed thousands and displaced millions in northeastern Nigeria.
Reuters reports that thousands in Monguno had already been displaced from their homes elsewhere in Borno by militants.
Aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres warned last year that thousands in Monguno lacked proper shelter, water, sanitation and food.
There have been terrorist attacks along the Damaturu-Maiduguri road, a bomb attack that killed 30 in the market town of Gamboru and sporadic soft target attacks that have killed civilians and soldiers alike, since January 2020.