MAIDUGURI – Suspected Islamist gunmen shot dead 12 people in two separate attacks on villages near Nigeria’s border with Niger while three others drowned in a river while fleeing, locals said Sunday.

The attackers, thought to be from the Boko Haram militant group, on Thursday shot dead seven people in Gashigar village, a fishing community in Borno state, close to the Nigerian border with neighbouring Niger, the locals said.

Three others drowned in the river while fleeing from the night raid, they added.

The attack came four days after a similar one on two other neighbouring villages — Yawuma-ango and Jabulam — in which gunmen shot dead five people, a former deputy local government council chairman in the district, Talba Gashigar, said.

He said most residents of Gashigar village had fled to Niger after the marauders arrived in a convoy of three vehicles and “countless motorcycles” and destroyed dozens of homes and shops.

“We all had to flee. Men, women and children had to cross over to neighbouring Niger for our dear lives,” he added.

Police authorities in Maiduguri, the state capital, confirmed the Gashigar village attack but gave no details.

State police spokesman, Gideon Jibrin, denied a charge by Gashigar that security men were not present in the area.

A total of 19 people were killed in a car bomb attack on a busy market in Maiduguri last Tuesday blamed on Boko Haram militants, the police said.

Witnesses reported that another five people were killed in a separate attack on Tuba village also allegedly carried out by Boko Haram gunmen, just hours after the market explosion.

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