Islamic State West Africa (ISWA) insurgents, a faction of Boko Haram, overran the town of Rann, Borno State, on the evening of Monday, January 14, 2019, as soldiers took to their heels, according to a report by Reuters.

ISWA, the Abu Mus’ab al-Barnawi faction of Boko Haram, has become the dominant terrorist group in Nigeria’s northeast. A surge in ISWA attacks in recent weeks have renewed debates around security in the run-up to Nigeria’s general elections slated for February 16 and March 2, 2019.

Quoting sources, Reuters writes that Nigerian government forces fled along with residents of the town as ISWA invaded Rann. The report added that the militants also set buildings ablaze.

“The terrorists have invaded Rann, they’ve taken over, our guys are retreating,” Reuters quotes one military source as saying on condition of anonymity.

In December, ISWA launched a series of attacks that saw them take the town of Baga, the Nigerian headquarters of a multi-country force formed by Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger to fight the extremists, sending more than 30,000 people fleeing.

Acting Director, Army Public Relations, Col. Sani Usman (The Nation)
Acting Director, Army Public Relations, Col. Sani Usman (The Nation)

The Nigerian military retook Baga last week, boasting that it had handed the terrorists “a bloody nose”.

President Buhari won the 2015 election partly on the back of a promise to deal with terrorism in Africa’s largest economy.

The Nigerian government and military is yet to react to reports bordering on the take over of Rann by terrorists, at the time of filing this story.

Boko Haram has killed more than 50,000 people and displaced millions since it commenced an insurgency against the Nigerian state in 2009.