Boko Haram insurgents raided a border town in Nigeria’s Borno state, and attacked another village in the same state, killing at least 12 people, a witness and military and vigilante sources said on Wednesday.
The militants attacked Damasak, a few kilometers from the Niger border, at around 4:30 am local time (0330 GMT) on Tuesday, a military and a vigilante leader in Maiduguri said.
Chadian troops backed by soldiers from Niger freed the town from Boko Haram earlier this year but the militants have attacked it several times since, the last time in late March.
Nigerien and Nigerian security sources said that troops from the joint taskforce had recently withdrawn from the town.
“They came in Hilux vehicles (pick up trucks) and motorcycles, set fire to all the houses but all the residents have fled the town since last weekend when troops from the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) were withdrawing to Niger,” said a Nigerian vigilante leader who declined to be named.
Nigeria has been fighting Boko Haram through a joint taskforce with Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
Boko Haram also attacked the hamlet of Warsala on Tuesday night, on the outskirts of Ngamdu, a town at the border of Yobe and Borno states along a key highway.
At least 12 people were killed, according to a second military source and a bus driver from the village who counted the bodies.
“Boko Haram also burnt down all the houses, cars and other vehicles including two trailers,” bus driver Bukar Aji said.
Boko Haram has been trying to carve out a state in Nigeria’s northeast adhering to strict sharia law for the last six years. In March, it pledged allegiance to Islamic State, which has taken control of territory in Syria and Iraq.
The number of Boko Haram attacks in Nigeria have spiked since the end of May, after the group lost most of the territory it had gained in 2014.