MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) — Islamic extremist group Boko Haram killed 56 villagers in a remote area, the governor of Borno State of the region said Sunday, as the government warned that the extremists are trying to extend their violent campaign
Gov. Kashim Shettima confirmed the attack in Baanu village during a meeting with the parents of the 219 girls abducted from a school in the region by the extremists last year. Thursday marked 500 days of captivity of the girls from a school in Chibok.
"I want us all to understand that the Boko Haram crisis is a calamity that has befallen us, as the insurgents do not discriminate whether somebody is Christian or Muslim, neither do they have any tribal sympathy or affiliations. Just yesterday they killed 56 people in Baanu village of Nganzai local government, as I am speaking to you their corpses are still littered on the street of the village because virtually everyone in the village had to run for their lives".
He did not provide futher details of the attack.
Fleeing residents of Baanu village said they were attacked by Boko Haram on Friday night.
"We returned back to the village in the morning after spending the night in the bush, we saw corpses in the streets of the village," said farmer Mustapha Alibe.
Boko Haram's six-year-old uprising has left an estimated 20,000 people dead. At least 1,000 people have been killed by the militants since President Muhammadu Buhari was elected in March with a pledge to wipe them out.
Chadian and Nigerian troops have driven the extremists out of some 25 towns held for months in an area Boko Haram had declared an Islamic caliphate. Since then, the insurgents, who in March pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, have gone back to hit-and-run tactics and suicide bombings largely in the country's north.
Separately, a government official said there has been a sudden influx of Boko Haram agents in Lagos and other parts of Nigeria outside the militants' main area of activity in northeastern Nigeria.
Tony Opuiyo, spokesman of the Department of State Services— Nigeria's intelligence agency — said in a statement Boko Haram is trying to extend their reach after being pushed out of the urban centers of northeastern Nigeria.
Security agencies had arrested 14 Boko Haram suspects in Lagos, the capital Abuja and other parts of the country outside the northeast in the past two months, said Opuiyo.
Those arrested include cell leaders, some of whom admitted to involvement in recent suicide attacks, he said. Authorities on Friday said they arrested a teenager who was spying on Abuja's international airport for Boko Haram.
This version corrects death toll from 68 to 56. Adigun reported from Abuja, Nigeria.