At least 45 people were killed in a suspected Boko Haram attack in northeast Nigeria, AFP reported on Thursday.
The attack happened in the village of Azaya Kura in the Mafa area of Borno state on Wednesday, the caretaker chairman of Mafa local government area, Shettima Lawan said, calling it “wicked and despicable”.
Village chief Mallam Bulama said, “We counted 45 bodies at the end of the attack.”
He noted that other residents said more may have died after they fled into the bush.
Mafa, which is about 50 kilometers (30 miles) east by road from the Borno state capital, Maiduguri, and the surrounding area has been repeatedly attacked by the Islamist insurgents.
On October 26, suspected Boko Haram fighters abducted about 30 boys and girls, some of them as young as 11 and 13, while locals complained of almost daily raids that had forced many to flee.
Some 29 people were killed in March this year after flyers were sent warning of an impending attack — a tactic used by the extremists elsewhere in the region in their quest for a hardline Islamic state.
In the latest attack, heavily armed terrorists arrived on motorcycles at about 12:00 pm local time on Wednesday as villagers were at work.
“So far, 45 men have been killed and there are others that died in the bushes as a result of bleeding from bullet wounds,” said one resident, who gave his name only as Jabiru.
Trader Musa Abbani, who fled to Maiduguri, added, “The attackers destroyed more than half of the houses in our village, burnt over 50 motorcycles and four cars before they took away foodstuff and animals.”
In April, nearly 300 schoolgirls were abducted from a school by Boko Haram in a mass kidnapping which triggered international outcry.
According to a presidential committee investigating the abductions there were 395 students at the school at the time. 119 managed to avoid capture, while another 57 escaped in the first few of days of their abduction. 219 girls are still believed to be held by the group; a video released by the Islamists soon after showed them converting to Islam, presumably under duress.
In recent years Nigeria has been hit by a wave of terrorist attacks, most of which have been carried out by Boko Haram. Targets have included sports venues and schools teaching a secular curriculum.
Many women and children – including teenage girls – have been taken hostage by the group, which has carried out raids on schools and colleges, seeing them as a symbol of Western culture.