Chanting “Allah is great,” suspected Islamic militants gunned down dozens of Christian villagers and slit the throats of others in the latest attack in a northeast Nigerian area where the military has been bombing extremists out of forest hideouts, survivors said on Sunday.
Local government chairman Maina Ularamu said he has reports of more than 50 people killed in Saturday night’s attack on Izghe village in Borno state.
One survivor said the village list of those killed amounted to 63 dead. He spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.
Survivors said they are among hundreds of people from Izghe and neighbouring villages who fled on foot through the bush in the night from Borno into Adamawa, two of three northeast Nigerian states under a state of emergency to halt a 4-year-old Islamic uprising. The area is inhabited mainly by Christians in the overwhelmingly Muslim north of Nigeria.
Insurgents of the Boko Haram terrorist network routinely attack civilians after they are attacked by the military.
On Wednesday, the air force began daily aerial bombardments near Izghe of extremist hideouts in the Sambisa Forest along the border with Cameroon. Soldiers moved in on foot following the bombing and at least nine troops and several militants were killed in a fierce hours-long battle, according to hospital and military sources.
After that attack, Ularamu urged the military to deploy more troops, saying the soldiers are outnumbered and outgunned by militants armed with anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons as well as armoured cars looted during attacks. Dozens more soldiers were stationed in recent days in Madagali town, about 30 kilometers (20 miles) from the scene of Saturday’s attack.
Thousands of Muslims and Christians have been killed and tens of thousands forced from their homes by the state of emergency and by militants who want to create an Islamic state in Nigeria, Africa’s biggest oil producer with a population of more than 160 million made up of about equal numbers of Christians and Muslims.