Boko Haram Islamists raided two towns in northeastern Nigeria, torching public buildings and looting food and fuel stores, residents and a police officer told AFP on Sunday.
Islamist gunmen in pick-up trucks and on motorcycles stormed the towns of Galda and Fika in Yobe state late Saturday, firing wildly and forcing residents indoors.
The latest violence in the region comes shortly after President Muhammadu Buhari took office on Friday vowing to crush the Islamist group that has waged a six-year insurgency.
After repelling a military offensive, Boko Haram stormed Fika, 150 kilometres (95 miles) from the state capital Damaturu, burning a police station and public buildings including a law court, a local administration building and a primary school.
“Boko Haram gunmen came in two pick-up trucks and on several motorcycles around 9:00 pm (2000 GMT) and kept firing shots haphazardly and firing RPGs on the police station where they forced the policemen to flee and residents to run indoors,” Fika resident Abubakar Maigoro said.
The Islamists also torched a cluster of government-built homes for civil servants and 13 vehicles parked outside people’s houses, Maigoro said.
“They burnt all the telecom masts in the town and we have to go to hill tops in the bush where we can get phone signals to make calls,” resident Ibrahim Sagir said.
No information on casualties is available because communications are down.
Troops who mobilised from Potiskum, 50 kilometres (30 miles) away, to combat the Islamists were outgunned and forced to withdraw after intense fighting, Maigoro and Sagir said.
Boko Haram radicals also attacked Galda, 20 kilometres (12 miles) from Fika, at around 8 pm (1900 GMT).
“The gunmen stormed our town firing everywhere to scare people away before breaking into shops and carting away food and jerry cans of petrol,” resident Muhammad Garba said.
A police officer in Potiskum confirmed the accounts.
“Fika and Galda came under attack from Boko Haram last night. They burnt several public buildings in Fika and looted shops in Galda,”he said, asking not to be named because he was not authorised to speak to the media.
“Soldiers deployed from here but they were overpowered by the gunmen,” he said.
“We are yet to receive any report on casualties. Communication with the area has been disrupted as a result of the burning of telecom masts in the attacks.”
The reports of the raids came after a deadly suicide bombing inside a mosque in the city of Maiduguri killed at least nine people on Saturday just a day after Buhari was sworn in.
Overnight Friday, residents in a suburb south of the same city woke to the sound of RPGs being fired as Boko Haram tried to advance.