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Extremists 'on rampage' in Nigeria

Islamic extremists are rampaging through villages in north-east Nigeria and no troops have been deployed to protect civilians, according to residents.

They say more than 40 people have been killed this week in seven villages in Adamawa state, with houses and mosques burned down and businesses and homes looted.

State legislator Adamu Kamale said he has appealed in vain to authorities to send troops since the attacks began on Friday, and militants attacked Michika town on Monday.

People fleeing militant attacks in neighbouring Borno state report Boko Haram fighters saying they are preparing "a big grave" in Maiduguri, the biggest city in the north east where troops repelled an offensive by hundreds of militants on Sunday.

The extremists are increasing attacks as Nigeria prepares for elections on February 14.

Resident Emmanuel Kwache said: "They don't spare anything, they slaughtered people like rams and they burned down our houses after looting food.

"There's no presence of troops, some residents are hiding on top of hills, while those that could not run were abducted, particularly youths and women."

At least 200 combatants were killed in the clashes around Maiduguri, according to residents and security forces.

"They kept saying they were chasing us so that we can all run into the big grave they are preparing for us in Maiduguri," said Aishatu Ba'malum, who fled from Monguno, a north-east town taken by the militants on Sunday.

Ms Ba'malum, who lost her husband in the chaos of her flight, is among more than 200,000 people taking refuge in Maiduguri.

The city of two million appears to be surrounded. Three roads lead to areas held by Boko Haram. The militants are believed to be attacking the fourth road leading to the northern city of Kano, according to residents.

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