NIGERIA.Borno State: 13 scrap metal collectors have been killed and three others are severely injured when a bomb they scooped from the ground unknowingly exploded.
The scavengers who were 16 in number are residents of Internal Displaced Persons Camp (IDP) in Bama, found the dormant bomb while sourcing metal scrap in the bush on the outskirt of Bama town.
Bama, which is one of the most affected local government areas, was taken over by banditry, kidnapping and Boko Haram in 2014 and declared a caliphate. They have killed more than 40,000 people and displaced 2.2 million more.
“The bomb exploded as they were pushing it in a cart toward the town, killing 13 and seriously injuring three,” Babakura Kolo, a leader in a local militia, said on Tuesday.
Kolo said the ordnance had been dropped in 2015 during military operations to retake Bama from the Boko Haram armed group.
In 2015, Nigerian troops, with the support of Chadian Armys, reclaimed some of their land captured by Boko Haram after years of intensive battle. Residents who fled the city returned three years later, many of them living in displacement camps, as the city was substantially destroyed during the fight to recapture it.
“It was dormant for seven years and buried in the sand but they managed to dig it out, not knowing it was a bomb,” said another militia leader, Bukar Grema.
However, it is learnt that the locals in the IDP camp depend on scavenging and felling trees in the arid region for firewood and other chores as their only source of income.
The report also showed that Jihadists have been targeting scrap collectors, accusing them of spying for troops and the militia fighting them.
Last month, fighters from the ISIL-linked Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) group killed 10 scavengers in Goni Kurmi village near Bama where they had gone looking for metal, a week after they killed 23 other collectors in Dikwa district.