At least 42 people were shot dead by suspected Boko Haram gunmen in attacks on two villages in Biu and Hawul districts of northeast Nigeria’s Borno state, a police officer said Wednesday.

“We received reports of attacks by suspected Boko Haram gunmen on the two villages in which 42 deaths were recorded,” the officer said from Biu, 180 kilometres south of Maiduguri, the state capital.

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A Biu resident confirmed the attack on the villages.

Militant Islamist group Boko Haram has killed thousands of people in a six-year insurgency in the northeast of Africa’s most populous nation and top oil exporter.

Boko Haram took control of a large swath of northeast Nigeria until a multinational force this year forced them out of towns and villages. Nigeria’s military says the extremists are now mostly confined to the Sambisa Forest.

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Last weak, a large sack of home-made bombs discovered at an abandoned Boko Haram camp exploded, killing 63 people, witnesses said. The death toll was many times higher than in any recent attack in northeast Nigeria.

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At least 97 people have been killed in suicide bombings in northeast Nigeria since May 30, and 113 in the past month. The highest toll from a single bombing was 29 who died in twin suicide bombings on June 4 in the main market at Yola, the capital of northeastern Adamawa state.