MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) — In attacks and reprisals between an Islamic militant group and vigilantes, at least 25 civilians were killed in northeast Nigeria, a vigilante group said Sunday.
It was the first attack with major fatalities reported since dozens of students were killed earlier this month in attacks blamed on Boko Haram, the militant group whose name means “Western education is forbidden.”
Nigeria’s military has said the situation has been brought under control since thousands of troops were moved into the region after the government imposed a state of emergency on May 14 and conceded that extremists were controlling towns and villages in the northeast of Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and its largest oil producer.
Mixed messages since then have the military claiming control and intermittent attacks by the extremists.
Vigilante leader Aliko Musa said Sunday that his group stormed villages over the weekend to hunt Boko Haram members. He said they retaliated with big fire power and that five vigilantes and 20 civilians — mostly fishermen and traders — were killed.
Lt. Haruna Muhammed Sani of Nigeria’s military said 20 civilians and one vigilante were killed in the violence.
There was no way to confirm either account in an area in which the military has cut cellphone and Internet connections.