Maiduguri - Lawmakers in Nigeria on Thursday approved a request from President Goodluck Jonathan for a more than $1 billion loan to fight Boko Haram extremists.
Members of the Senate upper chamber of parliament approved the request, which was made earlier this month to beef up the military fighting the insurgents in the northeast.
The loan will be used for ships, armaments and helicopters, a senate committee reviewing the loan said, adding that Belarus would supply the choppers.
No details were given about which country would supply the other hardware and the loan must now be approved by members of the lower House of Representatives before Jonathan can sign it.
Jonathan's request came amid calls for him to declare "total war" on the militants, who have seized territory in the northeastern states of Yobe, Borno and Adamawa in recent weeks.
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Boko Haram has repeatedly bested Nigeria's military, leading to repeated claims that troops are under-equipped and over-stretched, although top brass maintain that they are now clawing back ground.
Meanwhile, Boko Haram attacked two villages in Borno Wednesday to Thursday, leaving 20 dead.
A senior local official, who asked not to be named, said the dead included a teacher at a secondary school and a pastor.
"Eighteen other people were also killed in the two communities while many others escaped with bullet wounds," he added.
The attackers also burned down 10 churches along with school facilities in the villages of Shaffa and Shindiffu, some 200 kilometres (124 miles) southwest of the state capital Maiduguri, one witness, Musa Mshelia, said.
Boko Haram, whose name roughly translated from the Hausa spoken widely in northern Nigeria means "Western education is forbidden," has repeatedly targeted churches and schools in its five-year uprising.
Nigeria's military claimed a rare victory against the group on Wednesday when it alleged that Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau was dead and they had killed a man who posed as him in videos distributed by the group.
But analysts dismissed the claim as propaganda.