Boko Haram fighters have killed 39 people and razed scores of homes when they stormed two villages in northeast Nigeria, firing indiscriminately on fleeing civilians, a state governor and witnesses have said.
Heavily armed groups in trucks attacked a mosque, markets and government buildings in a massive assault on Konduga village in the troubled state of Borno on Tuesday.
State governor Kashim Shettima said 39 people were killed in the raid, the latest in a series of attacks in Borno, the epicentre of a gruesome rebellion that has killed thousands of people across northern and central Nigeria since 2009.
Another four people were killed on Tuesday when gunmen opened fire in the village of Wajirko, also in Borno.
Wajirko resident Adamu Maude said the attackers destroyed around 50 homes, adding, “we lost four people in the attack and six more have been taken to hospital”.
Boko Haram has said it is fighting to create an Islamic state in Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north.
The southern half of the oil-rich country, Africa’s most populous, is mainly Christian.
‘Razed to the ground’
Shettima told reporters at the scene on Wednesday that more than 70 percent of Konduga had been “razed to the ground”.
Another 65 people were being treated for burn and gunshot wounds, a hospital source in the state capital Maiduguri around 35km away told the AFP news agency.
Konduga resident Sulaiman Abubakar said 400 gunmen dressed in military fatigues descended on the village around 5:30 pm and laid siege for several hours, destroying more than 2,000 homes.
Those figures could not be verified by officials or the security forces, however, and other residents described a lower number of attackers.
Residents who fled the village have been too scared to return, multiple witnesses told AFP.
In the village dead bodies, including those of women and children, could be seen lined up in the courtyard of the burned-out central mosque.
The walls of the mosque were charred, as were those of a local clinic and a library.
A teacher at a local girls’ schoo,l who asked to remain anonymous, said 20 masked gunmen broke into the compound, threatened the students and ordered them to stop studying and return home.
No students were harmed, but student and staff accommodation was set on fire and the school has been closed indefinitely and all the girls sent home, the teacher said.