Boko Haram crisis: Dozens killed in villages near Chibok

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A picture taken from a video distributed to some Nigerian journalists and obtained by AFP on 5 March 2013 showing hooded Boko Haram fighters in an undisclosed placeImage source, AFP
Image caption,
Boko Haram wants to create an Islamic state in northern Nigeria

Dozens of villagers are feared dead after attacks by suspected Boko Haram Islamist militants in Nigeria's northeastern Borno state.

The raids on Saturday morning were close to Chibok, from where more than 200 schoolgirls were abducted in April.

Villagers said Boko Haram fighters spent six hours on a shooting spree, chasing fleeing residents into the bush and torching homes.

Boko Haram wants to create an Islamic state in northern Nigeria.

The latest attacks by the group appear to have centred on two villages - Kwarangilam and Koronginim.

Residents described how attackers wearing military uniforms arrived in sports utility vehicles and on motorbikes shouting "Allahu Akbar" and shooting everyone in sight.

Many were gunned down as they tried to hide in the bush.

Witnesses also described seeing Nigerian air force planes and soldiers taking part in a counter-offensive.

The bodies of Boko Haram fighters were also reported to have been found outside Kwarangilam along with burned-out vehicles.

Remote areas at risk

Hundreds of villagers have been killed in northern Nigeria in Boko Haram attacks in recent months.

In one attack near the Borno state capital, Maiduguri, at the beginning of June, 45 people were killed.

The attackers told villagers they had come to preach before firing on a crowd that gathered, survivors said.

Militants have frequently targeted remote areas since emergency rule was imposed a year ago in the north-east.

Nigeria's government has been facing growing pressure both at home and abroad to do more to tackle Boko Haram since the militants' kidnapping of the Chibok schoolgirls.

The BBC's Will Ross in Lagos says that civilians who have formed vigilante groups are calling on the government to arm them with better guns so they can be more effective against the group.

Who are Boko Haram?

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau has been designated a terrorist by the US government
  • Founded in 2002
  • Initially focused on opposing Western education - Boko Haram means "Western education is forbidden" in the Hausa language
  • Launched military operations in 2009 to create Islamic state
  • Thousands killed, mostly in north-eastern Nigeria - also attacked police and UN headquarters in capital, Abuja
  • Some three million people affected
  • Declared terrorist group by US in 2013

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