At least 30 people have been killed in an attack in northeastern Nigeria, according to officials.
The attack on Sunday evening targeted the village of Auno on a key highway linking to Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state.
The attackers stormed in on trucks mounted with heavy weapons, killing, burning and looting before kidnapping women and children, state government spokesman Ahmad Abdurrahman Bundi said.
They “killed not less than 30 people who are mostly motorists and destroyed 18 vehicles”, Bundi said in a statement after visiting the scene.
Babakura Kolo, a member of a state-backed militia battling fighters in the area, said travellers who had stopped for the night came under attack by the gunmen who torched vehicles.
“Many of the drivers and their assistants who were sleeping in the vehicles were burnt alive,” said Babakura Kolo, a member of a state-backed militia battling fighters in the area.
The attackers combed through the village, looting and burning shops and property before withdrawing, he said.
Kolo told the AFP news agency the fighters took away three buses carrying women and children to Maiduguri which had parked in the village for the night.
“We still don’t know how many women and children they took away but the number is huge,” he said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.
Auno lies on the 120km (75-mile) highway linking Maiduguri to Damaturu, a major regional city in neighbouring Yobe state.
The highway has been increasingly targeted by the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) group in recent months. In 2016, ISWAP split from the Boko Haram armed group, which has waged a decade-long armed campaign in northeast Nigeria that has killed tens of thousands and displaced millions from their homes.
The violence has spread to neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon, prompting the creation of a regional military coalition to fight the attackers.
The United Nations has complained of a surge of violent attacks in recent weeks across the conflict zone.
The increase comes after the Nigerian army last year launched a new strategy that saw it withdraw troops from remote bases into larger so-called “super camps”.
The military says the tactic has helped to stem attacks but local residents and aid workers say it appears to have bolstered the attackers by leaving vast swaths of territory unprotected.
Last month, four Nigerian soldiers were killed and seven wounded in an attack in Auno.
Source: News Agencies