Several gunmen opened fire on a bus and a car near Nwajurko village in Borno State Sunday, killing four passengers and seizing survivors who tried to flee, according to witnesses.
“The gunmen who hid inside homes along the road emerged and opened fire on a car as it approached, killing one person while the rest fled into the bush,” said Yuram Bura, a member of a vigilante group battling the jihadis alongside the military.
“The attackers also fired shots on a bus moments later, killing three people and seizing five others. Three more passengers were injured.”
Abbagana Saleh, also a local vigilante, said the dead and wounded were taken to hospital in Biu, 60 kilometers (37 miles) from the scene of the attack.
“When we received information on the attack we went to the scene and recovered four dead bodies and three people who sustained injuries from gunshots,” Saleh said.
“We [discovered] the dead victims near the abandoned vehicles while the injured were found in nearby bushes.”
The victims had been traveling to Biu from Damboa, which troops liberated from a nine-month occupation by Boko Haram in April, the vigilantes said.
Villagers the entire length of the 100-kilometre Biu-to-Damboa road have fled Boko Haram and the Islamists use many of the abandoned settlements as bases from which to launch roadside ambushes, say locals.
Boko Haram’s bloody insurgency in Nigeria has left more than 15,000 people dead since 2009 and has increasingly spread across the country’s borders, with Chad and Cameroon suffering deadly suicide bombings in recent months.
The extremist group, whose name roughly translates as “Western education is forbidden,” has carried on its campaign of attacks on security forces, suicide bombings and bloody raids on villages across Nigeria’s north and eastern borders despite a major regional military campaign against them.
The latest violence in the region comes just over two months after President Muhammadu Buhari took office vowing to crush the Islamist jihadis, now affiliated with ISIS.