Suspected Boko Haram gunmen killed at least 32 people in three separate attacks in northeast Nigeria, including at a theological college, a local government official and residents said on Thursday.
The coordinated attacks in Adamawa state late on Wednesday came just a day after Islamist militant fighters were blamed for killing 43 people, most of them students, as they slept at a boarding school in Yobe state.
The chairman of the Madagali local government area in Adamawa, Maina Ularamu, said “a large number of militants carried out three separate attacks on Shuwa and Kirchinga in my local government area and on Michika in neighbouring Michika (district)”.
“The gunmen divided themselves into three groups and separately attacked the three locations,” he told AFP.
In Shuwa, several buildings were burnt, including a Christian theological college and a section of a secondary school.
A local resident, Kwaje Bitrus, said three bodies were recovered from the seminary and a total of 20 were killed in and around the village.
In Kirchinga, Samuel Garba said the gunmen were all dressed in military uniform — a tactic frequently employed by the militant fighters in previous, similar attacks.
“The gunmen… killed eight people in our village and burnt many houses,” he added.
“Four people have so far been confirmed dead in Michika,” said Abdul Kassim, who lives in the village.
The dead were a young boy who was trying to run away and three security guards, he added.
In a statement, the military confirmed the attacks on multiple communities in Adamawa but said that only one soldier and three civilians were killed. Troops repelling the raids also killed six suspected Islamists, according to the statement.
The military further claimed that the militants, “in desperation for money and food…looted and burnt banks (and) shops”, and were trying to escape across the Cameroon border.
The top military commander in Adamawa last week ordered that the state’s border with Cameroon be sealed to block Boko Haram’s purported escape routes.
Residents in Michika described earlier how people fled to the nearby foothills when the attackers arrived in four-wheeled drive trucks and on motorcycles.
Michika resident Abdul Kassim said militants arrived at about 9:30 pm (2030 GMT) on Wednesday, “armed with RPGs (rocket propelled grenades) and explosives which they hurled indiscriminately at homes and public buildings”.
The attack reportedly lasted for more than four hours. Various residents said four banks were razed, as well as hundreds of shops, a police station, government buildings and dozens of homes.
One witness, who requested anonymity, said the village looked like a “war zone” and that some 90 percent of all businesses had been destroyed.
The military and police declined to comment when contacted by AFP.
Adamawa is one of three northeastern states placed under emergency rule in May last year following waves of Boko Haram attacks.
The top military commander in the state last week ordered the complete closure of the border with Cameroon in hope of blocking the movements of insurgents and weapons.
The ongoing military offensive has failed to crush the insurgency and nearly 300 people have been killed in a range of attacks already this year.
The United Nations meanwhile said on Thursday that nearly 300,000 people, more than half of them children, had fled their homes in the three states from May to January 1 because of the violence. [AFP]