YOLA, Nigeria (AP) — Chanting "Allah is great," suspected Islamic militants gunned down dozens of 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 Sunday.
Local government chairman Maina Ularamu told The Associated Press he has reports of more than 50 people killed in Saturday night's attack on Izghe village in Borno state.
Sunday afternoon, funeral rites were held for 52 Muslim victims at the central mosque in the nearby town of Madagali, mosque officials confirmed.
One survivor said the village list of those killed amounted to 63 dead. He spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.
He said the attackers looted the village food stores, set ablaze mud homes with thatched roofs and made off with about 10 vehicles.
Survivors said they are among hundreds of people from Izghe and neighboring 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 dotted by mainly Christian villages in a predominantly Muslim region, but the Nigerian militants have killed Christians and Muslims indiscriminately, with frequent attacks on mosques and churches.
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 armored 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 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.