Eight suspected Boko Haram fighters were killed on Monday during fighting in Gombe and Bauchi states, northeast Nigeria, police, residents and local hunters said.
Gunmen believed to be Islamist militants have been roaming Bauchi and neighbouring Gombe since the weekend, when there was a series of attacks on polling stations open for Nigeria’s general election.
Boko Haram have been increasingly operating in both states, as the military forces it out of captured territory in the three northeastern states of Yobe, Borno and Adamawa.
On Monday, Babakarami Sunusi, who lives in Gombe Abba, about 10 kilometres (6.25 miles) from Dukku, in Gombe state said four gunmen were killed.
According to him, gunmen in several vehicles arrived in the village around 4:30 am (0330 GMT) and were intercepted by soldiers who engaged them in a gunfight.
“The soldiers killed four of the gunmen and captured one,” he said. “The rest of the gunmen fled.”
Idi Male, a local hunter in the area gave a similar account, adding: “They (the gunmen) went into the hills outside the village but they were pursued by local hunters. The hunters are yet to return.”
Bauchi state police spokesman Haruna Mohammed said police and local vigilantes “got wind of the approaching hoodlums (and) engaged them in a fierce gun battle” at about 7:30 am in Tafawa Balewa.
Four gunmen were killed and four of their 18 four-wheel drive pick-up trucks mounted with heavy machineguns were seized, along with empty shells and ammunition.
“Meanwhile, (the) same hoodlums went back to Jitar village in Bauchi LGA (local government area) and killed three vigilante members,” Mohammed added.
“The entire surrounding has been cordoned off by combined security forces and (an) intensive patrol is ongoing to flush out fleeing miscreants.”
Three people were killed as voters queued up at polling stations in Dukku, Gombe state, on Saturday.
On Sunday, the Bauchi state government imposed an indefinite, 24-hour curfew on three areas, including the state capital Bauchi city, as troops fought battles with scores of Boko Haram fighters nearby.
But the local All Progressives Congress opposition blamed the unrest on its political opponents and linked it to the election.