Suspected Boko Haram militants killed 18 people in north-east Nigeria, according to local witnesses and officials, the latest in an escalating number of fatal attacks in the region.
Knife-wielding attackers, moving under cover of night, targeted people in Banki, south-east of Maiduguri in Borno state, the epicentre of the eight-year conflict with Boko Haram, said a community leader and a local member of a vigilante group.
The attack on the town, on the border with Cameroon, is the latest in a string of deadly Boko Haram raids and bombings undermining Nigerian military statements that the insurgency is all but defeated.
The frequency of attacks in north-eastern Nigeria has increased in past months, killing at least 172 people since June 1 before Friday’s attack, according to a Reuters tally.
The attack on Banki left 18 dead, according to Modu Perobe, a member of the Civilian Joint Task Force, a regional vigilante group. Abor Ali, a local ruler, confirmed the death toll.
Boko Haram’s eight-year insurgency has left at least 20,000 dead and sparked one of the largest humanitarian crises in the world, with tens of thousands already in famine-like conditions, according to the United Nations.
Some 8.5 million people in the worst affected parts of north-east Nigeria are now in need of some form of humanitarian assistance, with 5.2 million people lacking secure access to food, the UN said.