Two suspected Boko Haram attacks in northeast Nigeria have left up to 14 people dead and three soldiers wounded, the army and local residents said on Monday.
On Monday afternoon, six people were killed in an ambush of a commercial convoy escorted by the military in the Sanda district of Borno state.
“Suspected elements of the remnants of Boko Haram terrorists who were foraging for food, ambushed troops… escorting commercial vehicles from Damboa to Maiduguri,” said army spokesman Sani Usman.
“Unfortunately, five civilians lost their lives at the incident and another died on the way to the hospital,” he said.
“Three soldiers also sustained injuries.”
Another attack took place on Sunday when eight people were killed outside a church by suspected Boko Haram gunmen on bicycles shortly after morning service in Kwamjilari village, about 30km east of the town of Chibok, in Borno state.
“Some of the worshippers remained around the church and the gunmen opened fire and eight men died,” said Luka Damina, from nearby Kautikeri village, where locals fled.
The attackers set fire to homes and fields of maize that were almost ready for harvest, according to a local chief in Kautikeri, who also said eight people were killed.
The army spokesperson, however, disputed the facts saying only two people were killed “by Boko Haram suspects looking for food”.
The chief said soldiers were later deployed to Kwamjilari from Chibok – the scene of a notorious kidnapping in 2014 when more than 200 schoolgirls were seized.
A similar attack in the area last month left 10 people dead and saw 13 others kidnapped, while homes were looted and set on fire.
Both raids bear the hallmarks of Boko Haram Islamists, who have frequently attacked villages, churches and mosques across northeast Nigeria and beyond since 2009.
Nigeria’s military maintains it now has the upper hand against the insurgents in a conflict that has left at least 20 000 dead and made more than 2.6 million people homeless.
But such sporadic attacks underline the continuing difficulty in securing remote rural areas.