At least 30 people have been killed in Nigeria after rebels attacked a series of churches in two villages near Chibok, the northeastern town where more than 200 schoolgirls were kidnapped in April, survivors have said.
Residents said that dozens of people may have been killed on Sunday in the raids on villages roughly 10km outside of Chibok, but no one was able to offer an authoritative death toll.
The military have been deployed and local officials said that the death toll was likely to rise.
“The attackers went to churches with bombs and guns,” Timothy James, a Chibok resident, said by phone.
Enoch Mark, an outspoken Chibok leader since the April 14 abductions, gave a similar account, telling the AFP in Lagos, “presently, as we are talking now, we are under attack”.
“We cannot tell the number of dead bodies,” he added. “I was told the attackers burnt at least three churches to the ground.”
Mark further said that the military had not responded to distress calls after the attack began.
While it was not immediately possible to verify the charge, if true, it would likely raise further questions about the military effort in the northeast, the epicentre of armed group Boko Haram’s five-year deadly uprising.
Following the April abduction of 276 girls by the armed group from a secondary school, parents and local leaders accused the military of doing almost nothing to secure the release of the hostages.
Fifty-seven of the girls escaped within days of the nighttime raid on the school and local officials have said that 219 are still being held.
International outrage has spread since the kidnappings and Nigeria has vowed to improve secure in the area in the south of Borno state.