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Boko Haram Stepping Up Raids in Northeast Nigeria

  • VOA News

FILE - Burnt vehicles and houses are pictured on a street, after Boko Haram militants raided the town of Benisheik, west of Borno State capital Maiduguri.

FILE - Burnt vehicles and houses are pictured on a street, after Boko Haram militants raided the town of Benisheik, west of Borno State capital Maiduguri.

Boko Haram appears to be stepping up its attacks in northeastern Nigeria, and in some cases has hoisted its flag over villages it raided.

Witnesses and officials say suspected members of the Islamist militant group have killed dozens of civilians during a recent series of raids in the northeast.

The raids include a late Tuesday attack in the Gwoza district of Borno state. Witnesses say gunmen dressed as soldiers fired on villagers and set homes on fire. They say a large number of people were killed.

The Islamist militants are still holding more than 200 schoolgirls they kidnapped from a school in Borno state in mid-April.

Nigerian officials believe the militants are also responsible for twin bombings in the central city of Jos in May that killed at least 118 people.

The Nigerian government has struggled to contain the group despite a state of emergency in the northeast and deployment of thousands of troops to the area.

On Wednesday, Nigerian officials denied a report that 15 officers, including 10 generals, have been court martialed for cooperating with Boko Haram militants.

Two officials -- military spokesman Major-General Chris Olukolade and government communications official Mike Olmeri -- both told VOA that the report is "not true."

Omeri told VOA the Nigerian government has launched a nationwide sensitization campaign that is designed to empower and engage citizens about the government's efforts to fight Boko Haram.

"It is [a] counterterrorism awareness campaign material translated into various languages and distributed in neighborhoods, in the media and so forth and so on. It provides useful tips and other telephone contacts," said Omeri.

Earlier, the Leadership newspaper had reported the officers were found guilty of giving information and ammunition to Boko Haram, which has said it wants to establish a strict Islamist state in northern Nigeria.

The militants have killed thousands of people over the past five years in attacks on schools, churches, mosques, bus stations, and other public places.

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