No fewer than 43 people have been killed in the latest attack by Boko Haram gunmen against residents of two villages in Borno state, North east Nigeria.
Scores of homes were also destroyed by the trigger happy gunmen, firing indiscriminately on fleeing civilians.
Reports said heavily armed extremists in 4X4 trucks attacked a mosque, markets and government buildings in a massive assault on Konduga village, which had witnessed attacks before. Thirty nine people died in the village.
State governor Kashim Shettima said four persons were also killed Tuesday when gunmen opened fire in the village of Wajirko.
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 a strict Islamic state in Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north.
Shettima told reporters at the scene on Wednesday 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 35 kilometres (22 miles) away said.
Konduga resident Sulaiman Abubakar said 400 gunmen dressed in military fatigues descended on the village around 5:30 pm (1630 GMT) 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 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’ school 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.
Shettima told survivors Boko Haram was “better armed” than the Nigerian military and called for more troops to be sent to the state.
Borno, along with the two neighbouring states of Adamawa and Yobe were placed under a state of emergency in May of last year, when the military launched a major offensive aimed at crushing the Islamist uprising.
But attacks have continued in the northeast, and there have been claims President Goodluck Jonathan’s government has not done enough to stem the violence.
Tijjani Peter, a member of vigilante group in Konduga battling Boko Haram with the support of the security forces, said the Islamists had “subdued” soldiers deployed in the area.
“The terrorists had a field day,” he said. “They destroyed everything on site and killed at will.”