Suspected militants killed dozens of people on Sunday in an attack on three Nigerian villages, including one assault targeting worshippers at a church, three miles from Chibok, the scene of an abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls by Boko Haram.
The attacks were made simultaneously on three villages in the Chibok area, in Borno state. No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks. In a separate assault on Friday evening, insurgents killed seven soldiers in the village of Goniri, in Yobe state, a security source and witnesses said.
Boko Haram has killed thousands since launching an uprising on 2009, and many hundreds in recent months. The group is considered a threat to the stability of Africa’s largest economy and oil exporter.
Samuel Chibok, a survivor of the Sunday attack on Kautikiri village, near where the girls were snatched, said that around 20 men in a Toyota pick-up truck and motorcycles rolled into town. They sprayed it with bullets, focusing on panicked worshippers in a local church.
"Initially I thought they were military but when I came out, they were firing at people. I saw people fleeing and they burned our houses," he said, adding that some people had died in the attack, including two of his relatives. "Smoke was billowing from our town as I left."
A local pro-government vigilante, who declined to be named, said residents had now recovered 15 bodies from the village. He added that many of the deaths occurred when worshippers were locked in a church, which was then sprayed with bullets.
Another attack on Kwada, five miles from Chibok village, left dozens of people dead, a security source operating in the area said, although the precise toll was not yet clear.
A senior advisor to Borno state governor Kassim Shettima, who declined to be named because he was not authorized to speak, said there had also been a third attack on Nguragida, his home village which he visited on Sunday. Nine bodies had been recovered from that attack, he said.
In Friday night's attack on a military outpost, suspected Boko Haram fighters arrived in four armored personnel carriers and 11 Hilux trucks mounted with anti-aircraft guns, said a security source and a witness who gave his name only as Hamisu.
"They were all dressed in full military but they did not direct their onslaught on the civilian population," Hamisu said by telephone.
An explosion on Friday night in a brothel in the northeastern Nigerian city of Bauchi killed 11 people and wounded 28, police said on Saturday. This attack was also believed to be the work of Boko Haram.
The fighters are extending their reach beyond their remote northeastern heartlands. A bomb in an upmarket shopping district of the capital Abuja killed 21 people on Wednesday, the third attack on the capital in three months.
Al Jazeera and Reuters