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At least nine people have been killed in fresh attacks by terror group Boko Haram in north east Nigeria. The Islamist outfit set houses on fire in the villages of Tadagara and Dunbulwa in Yobe, one of the states that bears the brunt of the deadly insurgence.
Witnesses said the terrorists attacked the villages with assault rifles and looted shops and houses before torching them. "Boko Haram gunmen came on motorcycles and opened fire on the village after we had retired for the night and killed nine residents," one survivor told AFP. "We fled into the bush from where we saw fire erupting from our homes as the gunmen set them alight after looting them."
Who are Nigeria's Boko Haram terrorists?
Boko Haram (recently renamed Iswap) fights against Western influence in Nigeria and aims to impose its version of Sharia law in the country.
The group declared an Islamic caliphate in Gwoza, along the Cameroon border, in August 2014.
Boko Haram has raided several cities in the north of the country in a bid to take control of more land.
Three states − Adamawa, Borno and Yobe − have been under a state of emergency since May 2013, due to Boko Haram's attacks.
The group has killed more than 3,000 people since the beginning of 2015.
Villagers in Dunbulwa managed to escape as they had been advised by civilians fleeing from Tadagara, which was attacked first. The latest attack comes one day after the insurgents killed at least seven people in the restive Borno state, Boko Haram's birthplace.
Boko Haram has killed more than 13,000 people since its insurgence became violent in 2009. The Nigerian army recently announced that a new task force – comprising troops from Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon, Chad and Benin – is ready to take over the ongoing fight against the terrorists. The 8,700-strong force is expected to be more efficient than the current offensive. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari named Major General Iliya Abbah as the head of it.
US President Barack Obama has also pledged more support to Nigeria in its fight against terrorism and corruption. The country announced it is considering lifting a ban on arms sales to Nigeria after Buhari warned the restriction helps Boko Haram's insurgency.
Following a trip to Abuja, US congressman Darrel Issa warned that the terror group might be funded with money generated from oil thefts in Nigeria. The Nigerian government has launched a major anti-corruption investigation with Buhari announcing the government is working to find banks and countries where funds he alleged had been stolen during previous administrations have been lodged.
The leader also banned 113 vessels from lifting crude oil from some 27 Nigerian ports amid suspicions the vessels had been implicated in illicit activities and replaced the whole board of state-run oil company Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.