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Published: Monday April 14, 2014 MYT 6:55:02 AM
Updated: Monday April 14, 2014 MYT 6:56:05 AM

Nigeria Islamists kill 68 in two village attacks - witnesses

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (Reuters) - Suspected Islamist militants killed at least 60 people in an attack on a village in northeast Nigeria, while a separate attack killed eight people at a teacher training college, witnesses said.

Boko Haram, which wants to carve an Islamic state out of Africa's most populous country, split roughly equally between Christians and Muslims, has killed thousands since launching an uprising in the northeast four and a half years ago.

Witnesses said the gunmen attacked the village of Kala Balge, near the Cameroon border, on Thursday, from several different quarters, shooting sporadically as terrified residents tried to flee.

"I'm making efforts to evacuate my parents from the town," said Ibrahim Bukar, 35, after escaping the attack. He said he counted 60 bodies scattered around after the insurgents left. Most have since been buried by the villagers, he said.

In a separate assault, insurgents killed eight people at a teacher training college in the remote village of Dikwa on Wednesday, witnesses said.

"They entered at night. They killed my brother Madu. The insurgents shot him in front of his wife and two sons. Then they shot them, too," Yakubu Saleh said, choking back tears over the telephone.

President Goodluck Jonathan ordered extra troops into northeast Nigeria last May to try to crush the rebels, the biggest security threat to Africa's top oil producer.

But the rebels have retreated into the remote, hilly Gwoza area, bordering Cameroon, from where they have stepped up their campaign, mounting deadly attacks against security forces and civilians they accuse of being pro-government.

(Reporting by Lanre Ola; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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