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Nigeria Islamist group Boko Haram 'kills 24 vigilantes'

Dozens of vigilantes have been killed in Nigeria as they attempted to arrest members of the Islamist group Boko Haram. The vigilante group was reportedly ambushed by Boko Haram members in the country's northeast.

At least 24 members of the youth vigilante group, known as the Civilian Joint Task Force, were killed during its botched mission to capture Boko Haram members, a security official said late on Saturday.

The source, who spoke on a condition of anonymity, said more than 100 people took part in Friday's raid near Monguno town, 160 kilometers (100 miles) from the city of Maiduguri, capital of Borno state.

"The vigilante youths numbering over 100 were on a mission to capture some Boko Haram terrorists in their camps around Kaleri, Shuwari, Maganari and Nannari villages around Monguno's local government area, before they were ambushed by the terrorists," he said.

He added that a further 36 vigilantes were still missing.

The attackers, who were reportedly dressed in military uniforms, then moved to a nearby village where they killed at least 14 civilians, local government representative Alhaji Garba Ali told reporters.

Growing vigilante movement

Nigeria's military has encouraged the formation of civilian militias such as the Civilian Joint Task Force in its bid to pursue members of the Islamist sect in the northeast of the country. It claims that vigilantes, often armed with no more than clubs and knives, have arrested hundreds of members of the extremist group.

Borno is one of three northern states placed under a state of emergency by President Goodluck Jonathon in May amid a major offensive to end Boko Haram's four-year insurgency.

Regular attacks carried out by Boko Haram, which means "western education is sinful," have left more than 3,600 dead since 2009. The group claims to be fighting for the creation of an Islamic state in Africa's most populous nation.

ccp/tj (AFP, Reuters, AP, dpa)