Dozens killed in suspected Boko Haram attacks in Nigeria
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At least 42 people were killed by suspected Boko Haram militants who shot residents dead as they tried to flee two villages in northeast Nigeria’s Borno state, witnesses and police said.
The attackers, who arrived on motorcycles and vehicles mounted with guns, torched houses and looted shops in the villages of Debiro Biu and Debiro Hawul late on Monday night and into Tuesday morning, witnesses told Reuters.
Local police confirmed the attacks.
"We received reports of attacks by suspected Boko Haram gunmen on the two villages in which 42 deaths were recorded," a police officer told AFP in Biu, 180 kilometres south of Maiduguri, the state capital.
Details of the attack did not emerge for several hours due to poor telecommunications networks in the remote villages in northeast Nigeria, a region in which Boko Haram has killed thousands in a six-year bid to set up an Islamist “state”.
“They were shooting sporadically and then they started looting shops and setting places ablaze,” said witness Hussaini Adamu, who fled with other villagers to hide in bushes after fleeing Debiro Biu.
More than 100 people have been killed in northeast Nigeria in the past few weeks in a spate of bombings, mostly in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state.
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Muhammadu Buhari, the new president of Africa’s most populous nation and biggest economy, made Maiduguri the command centre for the military campaign against Boko Haram after being inaugurated last month.
Buhari has held talks with counterparts in neighbouring countries to set up a joint force to tackle the insurgents.
Boko Haram controlled territory the size of Belgium in the northeast at the start of the year but has been pushed out of most of it by the Nigerian army, backed by troops from Chad, Niger and Cameroon.
In Washington, State Department spokesman John Kirby said the United States condemned the Boko Haram attacks and commended the military forces of Nigeria and the other countries for their advances against the group.
“We encourage the government of Nigeria to take steps to secure and govern liberated areas by filling in behind military successes with police and civilian administration,” he said in a statement.
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS, AFP)