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Boko Haram attacks Buni Yadi, north of Nigeria

The terror group attacked the town north of Nigeria, which it lost to a Nigerian army offensive in March.

FILE: A screen grab from a Boko Haram video shows the leader of the terrorist group Abubakar Shekau delivering a message. The 35-minute message was posted on YouTube. Picture: AFP/Boko Haram

DAMATURU - Boko Haram Islamist militants have attacked the northern Nigerian town of Buni Yadi, which they lost to a Nigerian army offensive in March, military sources said.

A Reuters correspondent saw a detachment of troops with armoured personnel carriers and a fighter jet heading towards Buni Yadi in Yobe state on Friday morning. It was not clear if fighting was continuing in the area.

There was no information on casualties after the attack, which started at around 9pm local time on Thursday, the sources said on Friday.

"Those boys (Boko Haram) came to Buni Yadi yesterday and attacked our people. They came in about nine Hilux (pick-up trucks) and opened fire ... Our people have mobilised for reinforcement," one of the sources said.

Boko Haram has been trying to carve out a state adhering to strict sharia in the country's northeast since 2009. Buni Yadi was one of the towns captured by the insurgent group in 2014 and then reclaimed in March by Nigeria's army.

NIGER ATTACK

The group took over large swathes of territory last year but were pushed back into their last stronghold in the Sambisa forest reserve with the combined efforts of Nigerian and regional forces, including Niger, Chad and Cameroon.

The militants have since dispersed and reverted to guerrilla tactics, including hitting towns well outside their Borno state heartland over the last two weeks.

Neighbouring Niger and Chad have also fallen victim to repeated attacks in recent weeks.

Suspected Boko Haram militants on Thursday slit the throats of five civilians at a building site in the southern Niger village of Dagaya, close to the border with Nigeria, military sources said on Friday.

That followed an attack on the village of Tchoukoudjani in southeast Niger on Wednesday in which at least one civilian was killed and three wounded, the UN humanitarian coordinator OCHA said.

President Muhammadu Buhari has made quashing the insurgency his number one priority and is building up a base in Chad's capital N'Djamena, out of which regional forces can launch attacks on the militants.

FRESH TALKS TO RELEASE THE GIRLS

Fresh negotiations have started with Boko Haram militants for the release of more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped last year but the Nigerian government is not currently involved in the talks, a human rights activist said on Friday.

Fred Eno, who was involved in negotiations for the release of the Chibok girls last year but not the current talks, said others had resumed contact with the Islamist group independently of the government. He did not say who they were.

"Preliminary contacts were made with the insurgents by those ... involved in the previous negotiations, with a view to reviving the deal we struck last time," Eno said. "They [Boko Haram] have responded in the affirmative and so various channels are being explored."

He did not say when the approach had been made to Boko Haram or give details of the previous deal, but said the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, elected earlier this year on pledges to quash the insurgency, was not involved.

"There are no formal negotiations going on now between the current government and the insurgents for the release of the girls as such," Eno said.

A spokesman for the presidency said it had no knowledge of the talks and was not trying to reach out to Boko Haram although it has previously said it was not averse to negotiation.

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