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4 Nigerian villages reeling after Boko Haram attack: 'We lost many people'

By Aminu Abubakar, for CNN
updated 5:07 AM EDT, Thu June 5, 2014
A video of Abubakar Shekau, who claims to be the leader of the Nigerian Islamist extremist group Boko Haram, is shown in September 2013. Boko Haram is an <a href='http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/27/world/africa/nigeria-year-of-attacks'>Islamist militant group waging a campaign of violence</a> in northern Nigeria. The group's ambitions range from the stricter enforcement of Sharia law to the total destruction of the Nigerian state and its government. Click through to see recent bloody incidents in this strife-torn West African nation: A video of Abubakar Shekau, who claims to be the leader of the Nigerian Islamist extremist group Boko Haram, is shown in September 2013. Boko Haram is an Islamist militant group waging a campaign of violence in northern Nigeria. The group's ambitions range from the stricter enforcement of Sharia law to the total destruction of the Nigerian state and its government. Click through to see recent bloody incidents in this strife-torn West African nation:
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Boko Haram: Nigeria's crisis
Boko Haram: Nigeria's crisis
Boko Haram: Nigeria's crisis
Boko Haram: Nigeria's crisis
Boko Haram: Nigeria's crisis
Boko Haram: Nigeria's crisis
Boko Haram: Nigeria's crisis
Boko Haram: Nigeria's crisis
Boko Haram: Nigeria's crisis
Boko Haram: Nigeria's crisis
Boko Haram: Nigeria's crisis
Boko Haram: Nigeria's crisis
Boko Haram: Nigeria's crisis
Boko Haram: Nigeria's crisis
Boko Haram: Nigeria's crisis
Boko Haram: Nigeria's crisis
Boko Haram: Nigeria's crisis
Boko Haram: Nigeria's crisis
Boko Haram: Nigeria's crisis
Boko Haram: Nigeria's crisis
Boko Haram: Nigeria's crisis
Boko Haram: Nigeria's crisis
Boko Haram: Nigeria's crisis
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Lawmaker and residents say scores are dead, hundreds of homes destroyed
  • They say Boko Haram conducted the raids in northeastern state of Borno
  • One villager believes the attacks were reprisals for losses in previous raids

Editor's note: The witnesses to the attacks in northeastern Nigeria have told CNN their names may be used in this article. Their names have now been added.

Kano, Nigeria (CNN) -- Scores of residents in four villages in the northeastern Borno state of Nigeria, near the border with Cameroon, were killed Tuesday in Boko Haram raids, a lawmaker and residents said.

They said hundreds of homes were destroyed.

Heavily armed gunmen dressed as soldiers in all-terrain vehicles and on motorcycles attacked Goshe, Attagara, Agapalwa and Aganjara villages in Gwoza district, shooting residents and burning homes.

Villagers fled into neighboring Cameroon to escape the onslaughts, said Peter Biye, a lawmaker from the area who serves in the Nigerian lower parliament.

Her family was killed in front of her
Police in riot gear block a route in Abuja, Nigeria, on Tuesday, October 14, during a demonstration calling on the Nigerian government to rescue schoolgirls kidnapped by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram. In April, more than 200 girls were abducted from their boarding school in northeastern Nigeria, officials and witnesses said. Police in riot gear block a route in Abuja, Nigeria, on Tuesday, October 14, during a demonstration calling on the Nigerian government to rescue schoolgirls kidnapped by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram. In April, more than 200 girls were abducted from their boarding school in northeastern Nigeria, officials and witnesses said.
Nigerians protest over kidnapped schoolgirls
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Photos: Nigerians protest over kidnapped girls Photos: Nigerians protest over kidnapped girls
No sign of Nigerian violence slowing

"We are still trying to compile a toll of the dead as people on the ground are still counting the number of casualties," said Biye.

Residents of these villages fled their homes while soldiers have deployed in the area to fight the Islamists who have taken control of at least seven villages, the lawmaker said.

On Wednesday, military jets carried out aerial bombardment on Boko Haram positions in the affected area to dislodge the insurgents, he said.

Boko Haram: A bloody insurgency, a growing challenge

Goshe resident Abba Goni said at least 100 people were killed in the village, but there is no independent confirmation.

"They laid siege on the village and opened fire with Kalashnikovs and fired RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades), burning the entire village with its 300 homes and a few mosques," said Goni, who fled to Gamboru Ngala town.

"We lost many people including vigilantes who tried to fight off the Boko Haram attackers."

At the predominately Christian village of Attagara, the insurgents set fire to homes and a church and killed dozens of residents, according to Bulus Yashi, who fled to Gamboru Ngala.

"It was a reprisal attack over the casualties Boko Haram suffered in the village in two previous attacks," Yoshi said.

On Sunday, around a dozen motorcycle-riding gunmen opened fire on a church in the village killing nine worshippers.

However, residents mobilized and pursued the attackers, killing four and arresting four others, Yashi said.

Nigeria: Islamic leader on way to funeral killed by militants

Villagers had repelled a May 25 attack on the village, killing seven Boko Haram gunmen, he said.

"We believed they came on a revenge mission," Yashi said.

Boko Haram Islamists have in recent times stepped up raids in northern Borno state near the border with Cameroon, Chad and Niger, pillaging villages, looting food stores and killing residents.

With no communication in the region because of the destruction of mobile phone towers by the insurgents, news of attacks is slow to emerge and verification of death tolls difficult to obtain.

READ: Protests for kidnapped girls banned in Nigerian capital

READ: Boko Haram raids Nigerian villages, killing 35

READ: Military official claims he knows whereabouts of kidnapped girls

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