Four farmers have been killed in a suspected Boko Haram attack in northeastern Nigeria, civilian militia and residents said Monday.
The attack, near Molai village some five kilometres (three miles) from the Borno state capital Maiduguri, was blamed on fighters loyal to factional leader Abubakar Shekau.
“The four victims had their throats slit,” Ibrahim Liman of the Civilian Joint Task Force assisting the military with security told AFP.
One of the militants used the mobile phone of one of the farmers to say they had killed four and abducted two others, local resident Usman Gana said.
“They informed us we should come and collect their bodies,” he said.
The attacks underline the persistent threat to civilians in northeastern Nigeria, where more than 27,000 people have been killed since Boko Haram’s Islamist insurgency began in 2009.
The military has succeeded in pushing the group out of urban centres but rural areas remain hard to secure. Farmers and those collecting wood have been repeatedly targeted.
Molai has been hit several times during attempted raids on Maiduguri.
Meanwhile, more people have fled the town of Rann, near the border with Cameroon in northern Borno state, where 14 people were reportedly killed in a Boko Haram attack on January 14.
Rann at the time was home to some 35,000 internally displaced people.
The UN said about 9,000 and locals fled to Cameroon after the attack, heaping pressure on already overstretched authorities.
One local man, Walid Abdallahi, said the withdrawal on Sunday of Cameroonian soldiers sent to reinforce Rann had prompted “huge numbers” to leave the town.
“We are afraid to stay because with the withdrawal of the Cameroonians we are more vulnerable to Boko Haram attacks as the number of Nigerian soldiers around is grossly inadequate to protect us from attack,” he said.
Across northeast Nigeria, some 1.8 million people remain homeless and rely on aid agencies for food, shelter, healthcare and clean water.
Boko Haram jihadists also on Sunday attacked two military bases in northeast Nigeria’s Borno state, near the border with Cameroon, injuring six soldiers, two military sources told AFP on Sunday.
The attacks were the latest against military targets in the region with security becoming a major campaign issue ahead of presidential and legislative elections next month.
President Muhammadu Buhari, who came to power in 2015 on a pledge to end the Islamist insurgency, is seeking re-election in the February 16 polls.
Early on Sunday, troops fought off an attack by fighters believed to be from the Abubakar Shekau faction of Boko Haram in the town of Pulka along the border with Cameroon.
“The terrorists attacked around 1:15 am (0015 GMT) and soldiers engaged them in a 30-minute fight, forcing them to withdraw,” a military officer said in an account confirmed by another officer.
The fighters’ intention was to attack and loot the town after overrunning the base, said the officer, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorised to speak to the media.
Late on Saturday fighters from the same faction attacked another base in Logomani village near the town of Gamboru, leading to a fight that left six soldiers injured.
“Troops came under attack by Boko Haram terrorists who came in four gun trucks around 6:30 pm (1730 GMT),” the second officer told AFP.
“Six soldiers were wounded from bomb fragments,” he said.
Boko Haram has intensified attacks on military targets in the region over several months.
On Wednesday and Thursday the jihadists attacked three bases in Borno and neighbouring Yobe states, stealing weapons and burning the bases.
Boko Haram’s jihadist insurgency in northeast Nigeria has claimed 27,000 lives since 2009.
More than two million people have also been forced to flee their homes, triggering a humanitarian crisis in the region.