The Nigerian army announced on Sunday that at least 20 people have been confirmed killed in separate attacks by suspected members of the Boko Haram in Nigeria's Northeastern Borno State a day earlier.
“A group of Civilian Joint Task Force from Maiduguri stormed the village Dawashi in search of Boko Haram members when the suspected sect members came armed and fired sporadic shots that killed over twenty innocent civilians while a dozen suffered serious gunshot injuries," Lieutenant Haruna Sani, the spokesman of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) enforcing a state of emergency in the state, said in an e-mail to the media, a copy of which was obtained by the Anadolu Agency.
"The victims are mostly fishermen and traders who pursue their legitimate business in the area."
Some five members of the volunteer youth vigilante group hunting Boko Haram were believed to be among the dead.
The casualty suffered by the government-inspired youth vigilante this weekend, if confirmed, would be the highest since their formation about two months ago.
Lieutenant Sani said dozens of Boko Haram member wounded in the clashes were being treated in the premises of MNJTF Field Ambulance in Baga.
“Meanwhile, heavily armed Quick Reaction Group from MNJTF had been deployed to ensure the safety of lives and property in the area."
The new killings are among the deadliest since May when Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in crisis-ridden Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States - all in the country's Northeast.
It undermines claims by the military that it has destroyed the operational capacity of the militant group.
Coming barely a month after Abuja said it had reached a ceasefire with the rebel sect, the Saturday killings again confirmed doubts about the ceasefire claim. This will further put the government under fire particularly after Boko Haram's leader Ibrahim Shekau denied a truce deal in a recent YouTube message.
Founded by a college-educated Mohamed Yusuf in 2001, Boko Haram is opposed to anything western and has been blamed for very deadly attacks on security agents, churches, mosques and Muslim scholars critical of its operations.
Nearly 10,000 people, mostly civilians, have been allegedly killed by the militant groups since 2001.
Opinions differ as to when Boko Haram went violent after its initial peaceful preaching in Borno.
The group made international headlines in 2009 after its leader was killed in police custody following the group's clash with security agencies.