Three attacks were carried out by Boko Haram militants on Tuesday. The rampage killed at least 30 people in northeastern Nigeria, local officials and residents said Wednesday.
The simultaneous assaults were undertaken in Borno state, the base of Boko Haram’s insurgency.
“Boko Haram gunmen … yesterday set up a barricade on the Damaturu-Maiduguri highway just outside Ngamdu, and attacked motorists. They killed over 20,” local legislator Mohammed Sando told AFP.
“They then moved to Ngamdu and began to set houses on fire. Last week they burnt almost half the village in a similar raid,” Sando added.
Haruna Kabil, a bus driver, said a large number of people from Ngamdu fled their homes after the attacks.
“Some houses in Ngamdu were smouldering when I passed this morning. I learned from some passengers I took from Ngamdu that Boko Haram invaded the village in the evening and began burning homes after attacking motorists on the highway. They said that many people were killed on the highway, by the attackers,” Kabil told AFP.
Boko Haram attacked residents near Baga - northeast of Ngamdu - who had decided to return home from the state capital Maiduguri, where they had been living since January after fleeing yet another Boko Haram massacre.
“Yesterday, they chartered a lorry to [take] them to Baga. On reaching Garin-Giwa, which is just 4 km from Baga, they were ambushed by Boko Haram gunmen who opened fire on the vehicle, forcing dozens of men inside to flee into the bush,” said Abubakar Gamandi, head of the fishermen’s union in Borno state.
Boko Haram militants also set fire to the town of Damasak and “opened fire on everyone they saw,” said local resident Buba Ari.
“We are now going through the burnt area looking for bodies. So far we have covered five.”
“Most of us followed their advice and crossed the border into Diffa,” he further added, explaining that militants attacked some people who had returned to pick up personal belongings.
“The gunmen, however, apprehended eight of the passengers and shot them in the head.”
Troops from Chad and Niger recaptured Damasak in March from Boko Haram.
The Chadian troops had advised residents who had recently returned to evacuate within three days because they were withdrawing, according to locals.
The recent attacks emphasise the continuous threat still posed by the militants, despite pledges by Nigeria’s authorities to crush Boko Haram’s insurgency.
The Peace and Security Council of the African Union has decided to set up a regional task force of 7,500 soldiers to fight the insurgents.
Nigeria and its four neighbouring countries Benin, Cameroon, Chad and Niger have all decided to send troops to participate in the joint force.
The five-nation military coalition, known as MultiNational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), was first agreed upon in May 2014, following the kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls by Boko Haram in northeast Nigeria.