MAINOK, Nigeria, July 29 (UPI) -- Suspected members of the militant Islamist sect Boko Haram killed at least 43 people in attacks on Nigerian villages last weekend, military leaders said.
The attacks apparently were in response to villagers' efforts to band together and form vigilante groups to weed out Boko Haram terrorists who have taken hold of several towns.
The first of two coordinated deadly attacks came in the village of Mainok where 23 people were killed when Boko Haram members on motorbikes swarmed a crowded portion of town just after the village market had closed for business Friday. The terrorists allegedly opened fire indiscriminately on the unarmed crowd.
In Dawashi, Boko Haram targeted civilian vigilantes calling themselves the Civilian Joint Task Force, storming the village looking for members. Sporadic gunfire and a confrontation between Boko Haram members and vigilantes left 20 dead, Daily Trust reported Monday.
Vigilantes who gave chase and captured three suspected members of Boko Haram were ambushed on their return to the village and also killed.
Lt. Haruna Sani , a spokesman for the Multinational Joint Task Force, said most of those killed were innocent civilians.
"The victims are mostly fishermen and traders who pursue their legitimate business in the area. As at the time of compiling this report, the [surviving] victims were still ... receiving medical treatment from the injury sustained during the attack," Sani said.