29 June 2014
Last updated at 18:22
Boko Haram seeks to create an Islamic state in northern Nigeria
Four villages in north-eastern Nigeria have been attacked by suspected Boko Haram militants who targeted at least one church.
Some unconfirmed reports say 40 civilians and 6 insurgents were killed as militants and vigilantes clashed.
It is the latest assault on villages near Chibok, the town where more than 200 schoolgirls were abducted in April.
Hundreds of villagers have been killed in similar attacks in the region by Boko Haram in recent months.
A state of emergency is in force in northern Nigeria because of the group’s increasingly violent campaign to overthrow the government and create an Islamic state.
Attacks in the Chibok area eight days earlier were feared to have left dozens of villagers dead.
Bows and arrows
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Smoke was billowing from our town as I left”
Survivor of attack
An eyewitness said Kautikari village, a short distance from Chibok, was almost deserted, with bodies of civilians and Boko Haram fighters on the streets.
The insurgents were there for at least four hours, setting fire to homes and shooting sporadically.
Vigilantes armed with bows and arrows and hunting rifles have been trying to defend the village from such attacks.
One of the survivors said some 20 men arrived in a pick-up truck and on motorbikes, Reuters reported.
“Initially I thought they were military but when I came out, they were firing at people. I saw people fleeing and they burned our houses,” Samuel Chibok was quoted as saying.
“Smoke was billowing from our town as I left.”
The BBC’s Will Ross, in the commercial capital Lagos, says a Nigerian air force plane has been seen flying over the area.
However, residents of these extremely vulnerable villages often complain that there are not nearly enough soldiers deployed in the area and they have been calling on the government to arm the vigilante force, our correspondent adds.
AFP news agency named the other villages targeted as Kwada, Ngurojina and Karagau.
According to one account from Kwada, a number of churches there were attacked during Sunday services and worshippers killed before the militants went on to Kautikari.
Who are Boko Haram?
Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau has been designated a terrorist by the US government
- Founded in 2002
- Initially focused on opposing Western education – Boko Haram means “Western education is forbidden” in the Hausa language
- Launched military operations in 2009 to create Islamic state
- Thousands killed, mostly in north-eastern Nigeria – also attacked police and UN headquarters in capital, Abuja
- Some three million people affected
- Declared terrorist group by US in 2013
Who are Boko Haram?
Profile: Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau
Why Nigeria has not defeated Boko Haram