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Gunmen kill at least 15 in northern Nigerian market

At least 15 people were killed when suspected Boko Haram gunmen stormed a market in northern Nigeria late on Sunday, witnesses and a security source said.

MAIDUGURI: At least 15 people were killed when suspected Boko Haram gunmen stormed a market in northern Nigeria late on Sunday, witnesses and a security source said.

Villagers in the farming community of Daku, in Borno state, described how they were surrounded by at least 20 gunmen who fired indiscriminately and threw petrol bombs, engulfing the market in flames.

"Sunday is normally a market day and people from neighbouring villages had gathered at the local market in Daku when the insurgents laid siege," said grocery seller Laraba Simon.

"Scores of people escaped with bullet wounds while dozens of shops, stalls, houses, vehicles, motorcycles and assorted foodstuff were set ablaze by the rampaging attackers."

Laraba said the insurgents "surrounded the village with sophisticated weapons and petrol bombs".

Attacks by Islamist extremists from Boko Haram have increased in recent months, with the military apparently incapable of preventing the almost daily bloodshed exacerbated by the kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls in April.

The group has killed thousands during its battle against the government since 2009, but the conflict has received unprecedented global attention since the abduction of the schoolgirls.

But Zaka Sama'ila, another trader, said the latest attack was the first of its kind in Daku.

"It seems the terrorists are extending their frontiers every day. About 20 of them stormed the market area around 11.15am (1015 GMT) with one (jeep) and some motorcycles.

"There was serious pandemonium because they shot randomly, forcing unsuspecting people in the market to scamper for safety."

Sama'ila said villagers found 15 bodies among the market stalls after the gunmen left.

Residents said 10 others were found dead after being shot in their homes or as they were fleeing the violence.

Neither the police nor the army have commented on the attack but a senior security source in the state capital Maiduguri confirmed that it took place.

Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states, all in northeast Nigeria, have been under emergency rule since May last year.

Around 20 gunmen on motorcycles stormed a mosque in Yobe less than two hours after the Borno market attack and seized the local chief, residents said.

The gunmen set fire to the police station and a telecom mast in the village of Gumsa before fleeing.

"They took away a four-wheel van belonging to the chief and kept firing shots in the air," said a resident.

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