Suspected Islamist attack in Borno kills at least 65

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At least 65 people died in an attack by suspected Islamists on a group returning from a funeral in Nigeria’s Borno region, state television reported, one of the deadliest recent attacks on civilians.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the Boko Haram group and rival Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA) splinter group often carry out attacks in the area.

Local government chairman Mohammed Bulama was quoted as saying on state television the assailants killed 21 people returning from a funeral on Saturday and another 44 people as they regrouped to defend themselves.

Others were injured, he said.

President Muhammadu Buhari condemned the attack and directed the military to hunt down the perpetrators, a statement from the presidential office said.

Borno state is the epicentre of the Boko Haram and ISWA insurgency. The conflict has lasted a decade, during which time the militants killed thousands and millions fled from the region.

Resident Bakura Mallam Amadu saw insurgents gather before firing on the funeralgoers. A security source said Islamists on motorbikes and in vans attacked.

Nigeria’s military declined to comment.

Nigeria’s government says Boko Haram and ISWA have been largely defeated and driven from territory they once held, but they continue to attack civilian and military targets.