At least 42 people were shot dead by suspected Boko Haram gunmen in attacks on two villages in northeast Nigeria’s restive Borno state, a police officer and a resident who fled said on Wednesday.
“We received reports of attacks by suspected Boko Haram gunmen on the two villages in which 42 deaths were recorded,” the officer said from Biu, 180 kilometres south of Maiduguri, the state capital.
Some 30 Islamists in a convoy of pick-up trucks and motorcycles stormed Debiro Hawul and Debiro Biu villages on Monday and Tuesday, one resident said.
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The rebels shot dead their victims after looting homes and shops and setting fire to buildings, said Debiro Hawul resident Umaru Markus.
“They came around 12:30 am (1130 GMT) and opened fire on the village which sent people scampering into the bush to escape the attack,” he added.
“The gunmen slaughtered 22 people who were not fast enough in fleeing and went about looting homes, grains silos and drug stores.”
The attack followed a similar raid on Monday in Debiro Biu when 20 people were killed, said Markus.
“It never occurred to us we would be the next target because from previous attacks in our district Boko Haram have established a pattern of attacking it,” he added.
Both attacks again indicated the threat posed by Boko Haram, who have been pushed out of captured towns and villages by a four-nation military offensive since February.
But deadly raids, shelling, explosions and suicide attackshave continued against civilian targets since new President Muhammadu Buhari took over on May 29, vowing to crush the insurgency.
With the latest attacks — and a suicide bombing at a village market in the Gujba district of Borno yesterday — in all nearly 250 people have been killed in just under a month.