, MAIDUGURI, Nov 23 – Suspected Boko Haram Islamists have killed 12 people in Nigeria’s restive northeast, burning homes and stealing cars in an area repeatedly attacked by the insurgent group, police and residents said Saturday.
The attack in the Sandiya village happened Thursday in Borno state, Boko Haram’s stronghold, but details were slow to emerge given the communication shutdown in the area.
Borno is one of three Nigerian areas where a state of emergency has been imposed and where the military has shut down the mobile phone network in an attempt to block Islamists from coordinating attacks.
“Hoodlums invaded the community and killed 12 people,” Borno’s police commissioner Lawal Tanko told journalists in an emailed statement.
He said they burnt scores of houses and stole several vehicles in the village some 85 kilometres (50 miles) from the state capital Maiduguri.
“The gunmen were on a revenge mission,” said Sandiya resident Sabitu Ali, who identified the assailants as “Boko Haram” fighters.
“They are accusing us of collaborating with security men in tracking them,” he added.
Ali said that roughly 30 attackers stormed the town in a convoy of trucks and were “chanting Allahu Akbar (God is Great), and shooting everywhere.”
He and other victims recounted the attack to journalists in Maiduguri.
In recent months, the Islamist have carried out waves of raids in remote northeastern areas like Sandiya, killing hundreds of civilians.
The military offensive, launched when the state of emergency was declared in May, has partly succeeded in driving the Islamists out of major urban centres like Maiduguri, but attacks have continued in remote communities, including Sandiya.
Hundreds of civilians have been killed in recent weeks.
Boko Haram, declared a terrorist organisation by the United States last week, is fighting to create in Islamic state in Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north.
The conflict has killed thousands since 2009.
Nigeria has extended in the emergency measures through to May in a bid to permanently crush the insurgency.