Old bomb kills 13 scavengers in northeast Nigeria

Thirteen scrap metal collectors in Borno in northeast Nigeria states were killed when the bomb they unearthed went off, security sources told AFP on Tuesday.

Sixteen scavengers from a displaced persons camp in Bam found the bomb on Monday while digging for scrap metal in the bushes on the outskirts of the city.

“The bomb exploded as they were carting it towards the city, killing 13 people and seriously injuring three,” said Babakura Kolo, leader of the local anti-Jihadist militia.

Kolo said the munitions appeared to have been dropped in 2015 when the military bombed jihadist positions during an operation to liberate Bama from Boko Haram.

The Nigerian military is fighting to end a 13-year-old jihadist insurgency in the country’s northeast that has killed more than 40,000 people and displaced another 2.2 million.

“It was inactive for seven years and was buried in the sand, but they managed to dig it up without knowing it was a bomb,” said second militia leader Bukar Grema, who caused the same damage.

Boko Haram took over Bama in 2014 when they seized parts of northern Borno and declared a Caliphate.

In March 2015, Nigerian troops, backed by Chadian soldiers, recaptured most of the territory after months of intensive ground and air operations.

Residents who fled the city returned three years later, many of them living in displaced persons camps as the city was substantially destroyed during the fighting to retake it.

Most displaced people living in camps rely on food distributions from relief agencies, forcing many to turn to cutting trees in drylands for firewood and collecting scrap metal, which they sell to buy food.

The jihadists targeted scrap metal collectors, accusing them of spying for the troops and militias fighting them.

Last month, Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) fighters linked to ISIS killed 10 scavengers in the village of Goni Kurmi near Bama, where they went to look for metal, a week after they killed 23 scavengers in neighboring area of ​​Dikva.