Boko Haram fighters have killed more than a dozen people in an attack on a village in northeast Nigeria’s Borno state, witnesses say.
Abatcha Umar, a survivor, told Reuters news agency that at least 19 people were killed when the armed group stormed Malari village at around 2am on Sunday.
Umar said he counted 19 bodies, including that of his younger brother, after the attack.
However, an aid worker at a camp that received the survivors, and who declined to be identified, put the death toll at 63.
Hundreds of people from villages in the area have fled to the camp for displaced people in the garrison town of Monguno in Borno state, the aid worker said.
Boko Haram fighters had arrived in trucks at Malari village on Saturday evening, firing guns and rocket-propelled grenades, villagers said.
A village resident, Aisami Grema, said that police stationed in the village did not interfere with the attack.
“The police made no attempt to engage the Boko Haram fighters,” Grema told AFP news agency.
The fighters ransacked the village for two hours before leaving, another resident, Masida Umar, said.
The strike is the latest blow to Nigeria’s efforts to defeat Boko Haram and allied groups.
On Friday, four farmers were killed when Boko Haram fighters raided crop fields near Maiduguri.
Boko Haram, have launched a series of assaults against Nigerian troops, putting pressure on President Muhammadu Buhari’s government to tackle insecurity in the country ahead of general elections in February.
In recent months, the military has suffered its heaviest defeats in years, while commanders have been repeatedly replaced, and special forces soldiers have mutinied.
Founded in Maidugugi in 2002, Boko Haram is an armed group that fights against Western influence in West Africa and is active in Chad, Nigeria and Cameroon.
The group’s nine-year revolt has killed more than 20,000 people and displaced more than two million from their homes, triggering a dire humanitarian crisis in the remote Lake Chad region.
The majority of the displaced people used to be subsistence farmers, but because of the ongoing violence they can no longer tend to their fields and rely on food handouts from aid agencies to survive.
Chad, Cameroon and Niger have all joined the military effort by Nigeria against Boko Haram.