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Witnesses: Boko Haram militants seizing villages in northeastern Nigeria

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MAIDUGURI, Nigeria — Boko Haram militants are taking over villages in northeastern Nigeria, killing and terrorizing civilians and political leaders, witnesses say, as the Islamic fighters make a comeback from a year-long military offensive aimed at crushing them.

Nigeria’s military has insisted that the big influx of troops and a year-old state of emergency in three states that gives them the power to detain suspects, take over buildings and lock down any area has the extremists on the run. But while Boko Haram has in large part been pushed out of cities in the northeast, they have been seizing villages with thatched-roof huts in the semi-arid region where they once held sway, boldly staking their claim by hoisting their black flags with white Arabic lettering.

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