Maiduguri, Nigeria: A survivor hidden in a tree says he watched Boko Haram extremists firebomb huts and heard the screams of children burning to death, among 86 people officials say died in the latest attack by Nigeria's homegrown Islamic extremists.
Scores of charred corpses and bodies with bullet wounds littered the streets from Saturday night's attack on Dalori village and two nearby camps housing 25,000 refugees, according to survivors and soldiers at the scene just 5 kilometres from Maiduguri, the birthplace of Boko Haram and the biggest city in Nigeria's northeast.
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The shooting, burning and explosions from three suicide bombers continued for nearly four hours in the unprotected area, survivor Alamin Bakura said, weeping on a telephone call to The Associated Press. He said several of his family members were killed or wounded.
It was the third attack in a week suspected to have been carried out by the insurgent group – and the most deadly. Since it started losing control of territory, Boko Haram has reverted to hit-and-run attacks on villages as well as suicide bombings on places of worship or markets.
In neighbouring Adamawa state, a suicide bomber believed to be a Boko Haram militant killed around 10 people on Friday and at least 12 were killed last Wednesday in an attack on the Borno state village of Chibok, from where over 200 schoolgirls were abducted in 2014.
A Nigerian military spokesman, Colonel Mustapha Ankas, said insurgents entered Dalori in two cars and on motorcycles and opened fire on residents and burned down houses.
"While people were running for their dear lives ... three female suicide bombers attempted to make their way into the crowd ... and subsequently got blown up," he said without providing a casualty figure.
An official of the state emergency agency who was at the scene said there were 12 bodies burnt beyond recognition. "We can't even pick those ones, they were seriously burnt," the official, who declined to be named, said.
Borno state capital Maiduguri was struck by several bombs at the end of December that killed at least 48 people.
The state is the heartland of the seven-year insurgency that seeks to establish an Islamist state. Over 2 million people have been displaced and thousands killed.
Maiduguri has swelled to double its size over the last few years to around 4 million as it has become the refuge for most of the displaced population.
Separately, twin suicide attacks by suspected Boko Haram militants killed at least three people in two locations near Lake Chad, around 100 kilometres north of the Chadian capital N'Djamena, security sources said. At least one other would-be bomber was reported to have taken flight, they added