Gunmen on 4x4s torch Nigeria villages

2014-02-12 20:17
(Picture: AFP)

(Picture: AFP)

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Kano - Suspected Islamist gunmen raided two villages in Nigeria's restive northeast, torching homes and markets in attacks that killed at least four people and sent residents fleeing, witnesses and aid workers said on Wednesday.

Both raids occurred late on Tuesday in Borno state, a stronghold of the Boko Haram Islamist group that is waging a brutal extremist insurgency in the region.

Shortly before sundown, scores of gunmen in 4x4 trucks stormed the village of Konduga, spraying gunfire indiscriminately and setting the place on fire, said Bukar Mai Rembe, a Nigeria Red Cross worker in Konduga.

"The attack forced residents to flee the town into the bush while the gunmen went about setting fire to houses and markets," he told AFP, declining to give casualty figures.

"It was crazy," resident Sanda Goni said, adding that "hundreds" of houses had been burned in the attack that lasted roughly five hours.

"Most of residents are still in the bush, afraid to return to the town," he said.

Separately late Tuesday, gunmen opened fire in the village of Wajirko, before retreating during a shoot-out with soldiers deployed in the area, resident Adamu Maude said.

"We lost four people in the attack and six more have been taken to hospital," he said, adding that the attackers razed about 50 houses.

A similar attack last month in the village of Kawuri left at least 52 people dead, according to Borno state police, although local residents put the death toll at 85.

Borno and the neighbouring states of Adamawa and Yobe have been under emergency rule since May last year in a bid to stop the Islamist rebellion, which has claimed thousands of lives since 2009.

Attacks have continued in remote areas as well as in cities despite a military operation launched in the northeast when emergency rule was declared.

President Goodluck Jonathan, who has voiced frustration with the progress of the operation, replaced his top military brass on 16 January.

Read more on:    boko haram  |  nigeria  |  west africa
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