Members of the Takfiri Boko Haram terrorist group have killed at least 11 people in a Christmas Eve assault on a village in the volatile northeastern Nigerian state of Borno.
Local sources said the assailants driving trucks and motorcycles shot indiscriminately and set buildings on fire as they stormed the predominantly Christian village of Pemi in Borno State on Thursday.
Abwaku Kabu, a militia leader, said the attackers, who drove from Boko Haram’s Sambisa Forest enclave, looted medical supplies from a hospital before setting it ablaze.
They also burnt a church and abducted a priest, he added.
“The terrorists killed seven people, burnt 10 homes and looted food supplies that were meant to be distributed to residents to celebrate Christmas,” Kabu said.
Local community leader Ayuba Alamson said on Friday, “Four more dead bodies have been found in the nearby bushes by search and rescue volunteers,” adding, “This has moved the death toll to 11.”
The death toll still could rise as villagers fled into the bush during the attack and some people were still unaccounted for.
Separately on Thursday, gunmen attacked another Christian community in Garkida Village, in Nigeria’s northeastern Adamawa State.
Residents told AFP that the attackers looted drug stores and food supplies before torching homes.
There were no reports of casualties from that attack.
Nigeria’s Department of State Services, the country’s state security agency, had warned of an increased risk of planned assaults during the Christian holiday earlier this week.
In a statement on Thursday, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari reiterated “the promise of his administration to remain unyielding in confronting the Boko Haram insurgency as well as other forms of criminality.”
“For me, providing security for all residents in the country remains an article of faith,” he said, urging citizens to volunteer “intelligence/information on activities of armed bandits, insurgents, and other criminal elements within their communities in order to put an end to this blight.”
Northeastern Nigeria has been wracked by years of violence involving clashes between rival communities over land, attacks by heavily-armed criminal gangs, and reprisal killings by vigilante groups.
Boko Haram and other terrorist groups have also increasingly targeted loggers, herders, and fishermen in their violent campaign.
More than 30,000 people have been killed and nearly three million displaced in a decade of Boko Haram violence in Nigeria, according to the United Nations (UN)’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Boko Haram’s violence has spilled over into the neighboring countries of Chad, Niger, and Cameroon, which have created a joint military force to fight the terrorists.
The Nigerian government has so far failed to eradicate the violence.