By Sarah Maguire, CNN
Officials are searching for a second vessel on Lake Chad after two boats crashed on the lake, where fishermen are kidnapped and forced to work illegally.
At least 29 people were killed in the incident, according to Saad Adamu, a spokesman for the state government of Niger, whose territorial waters include the lake. The estimated death toll could rise.
The incident is the latest in a series of drownings on the lake, where international interest in the region has focused on Boko Haram’s insurgency.
Boat crashes between Lake Chad’s upriver, Niger, and downriver region, where hijacking is common https://t.co/03sxhVkC1x pic.twitter.com/2wuhKtiX16 — Adamunisa Giwa (@AdamunisaGiuwa) July 10, 2020
The latest incident appears to have happened around around midday Sunday, when a traditional craft known as a boat tethered to a mother ship capsized. A larger boat then struck the damaged vessel, the fishermen said.
The boat in the upriver region likely sent off a large oar before it hit the boat tethered to the mother ship, investigators from Niger told CNN, leaving it with no means of steering.
“There is no saving the fishermen” in the area, said fisherman Mohammed Hassan.
He said 30 people were missing, including four of his employees.
What makes this area more dangerous is the presence of Boko Haram, whose fighters hijack boats and enslave the fishermen and sailors.
The Nigerian military and vigilante groups have battled the militants, who control large swaths of land and hide in the remote swamps. They have carried out deadly attacks, including suicide bombings.
CNN recently reported how Boko Haram was set back in its stronghold of Sambisa Forest, once home to thousands of civilians and military bases. The town is now a military and police base.
The jihadists detonated explosives in a market in Maiduguri on Friday that killed 17 people, the army said in a statement. Security sources say it was a suicide bombing.