MAIDUGURI, Nigeria: Suspected Islamist extremists used homemade explosives and heavy guns to attack a village in Nigeria’s northeast, killing 52 people and razing more than 300 homes, security officials and witnesses said Monday.
It was among the highest death tolls in attacks increasing in frequency and ferocity as militants defy an 8-month-old military state of emergency to halt the Islamic uprising.
The attackers planted several explosives in Kawuri village after attacking near the weekly market as vendors were busy packing up Sunday night, the security official said.
He said two more improvised explosive devices exploded Monday morning, narrowly missing security personnel who were collecting bodies.
A police official who evacuated wounded victims confirmed at least 52 people were killed, and 16 were injured. Both spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not permitted to speak to reporters.
Ari Kolomi, who fled from the village 70 kilometers to Maiduguri, the Borno state capital, said “no house was left standing … The gunmen were more than 50; they were using explosives and heavy-sounding guns.”
Kolomi was still trying to figure out if his relatives survived the attack.
The security official said about 52 people died in a massive attack and the entire village was burned down.
He said one soldier was feared killed in the attack.
State Police Commissioner Lawan Tanko confirmed the attack but said he had been awaiting details on casualties.
At least 170 people have been killed this month in attacks by suspected members of the Boko Haram terrorist network in the area around Maiduguri.
The city is the birthplace of the group whose name in the local Hausa language means “Western education is forbidden.”
A Jan. 14 car bomb exploded in Maiduguri, killing about 70 people.
Officials blamed Boko Haram, though the state governor suggested it was the work of political opponents. Other attacks have forced the flight of hundreds of villagers in about 30 farming communities around Maiduguri.
Some of the displaced are camping on the outskirts of the state capital.
More than 5,000 refugees from the violence have fled to Cameroon and Niger this month, the U.N. said last week.