Kano: Boko Haram razed at least 16 towns and villages in a renewed assault after capturing a key military base in restive northeast Nigeria at the weekend, local officials said on today.
Heavy casualties were feared in the attacks yesterday in the remote north of Borno state, according to local sources, but there was no independent corroboration of the figures cited.
Musa Bukar, head of the Kukawa local government area, said, "They (Boko Haram) burnt to the ground all the 16 towns and villages, including Baga, Doron-Baga, Mile 4, Mile 3, Kauyen Kuros and Bunduram."
Abubakar Gamandi, head of Borno's fish traders union and a Baga native, also confirmed the attacks, adding that hundreds of people who fled were trapped on islands on Lake Chad.
News of the latest attacks came as Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan, who has been criticised for his inability to end the insurgency, formally launched his re-election campaign.
Nigeria's military -- West Africa's largest -- has come under scrutiny for its inability to fight the militants after reports of a lack of adequate weaponry and even bullets.
Boko Haram, in contrast, has been seen with advanced weapons, including rocket-propelled grenades, heavy machine guns and even a tank.
The militants, who have seized more than two dozen towns in northeast Nigeria in the last six months, now control all three of Borno's borders with Niger, Chad and Cameroon.