At least 87 people have been killed in Nigeria's northeast in an attack carried out by fighters of the Boko Haram armed group disguised in military uniforms, AFP news agency has reported quoting a state government official.

Boko Haram fighters set up checkpoints in the Benisheik area and gunned down motorists and travellers who tried to flee.

"Eighty-seven bodies were recovered in the bush and our people are still searching for more," Saidu Yakubu of the Environmental Protection Agency in northeastern Borno state told journalists on Thursday.

He briefed reporters who accompanied Borno's Governor Kashim Shettima to the scene of the massacre.

The group also burnt scores of homes and buildings in the late Tuesday assault, according to locals, who reported seeing corpses littering the roadside.

Details of the attack in the town which has been previously been targeted by Boko Haram first emerged on Wednesday.

"They came in droves, driving about 20 pick-up truck trucks," said a security source stationed in the town who requested anonymity. 

He said the fighters were armed with "anti-aircraft guns", in the latest indication that Boko Haram has bolstered its arsenal in recent months. 

'Barbaric and un-Islamic'

Mallam Isa Manu, a motorist who escaped unhurt, told journalists in the Borno state capital Maiduguri on Wednesday that the armed group wore "military uniforms", a tactic Boko Haram fighters have used previously.

According to army General Mohammed Yusuf, who also briefed the governor, troops ran out of ammunition while combatting the assault.

Shettima described the attack as "barbaric and un-Islamic," and pledged financial aid to the victims of Boko Haram's latest slaughter.

The motivation behind the attack was not immediately clear, but Boko Haram members have repeatedly carried out revenge attacks against residents over the emergence of vigilante groups that have formed to assist the military.

The fighters say they are fighting to create an Islamic state in Nigeria's mainly Muslim north, but their aims have repeatedly shifted and much of their violence has largely targeted civilians.

Source: AFP