Boko Haram extremists killed at least seven people in a Christmas Eve assault on a village in Nigeria’s restive northeast, local sources told AFP on Friday.
Security agencies had in recent days warned of an increased risk of attack during the Christian holiday.
Fighters in trucks and motorcycles stormed Pemi, a predominantly Christian village in Borno state on Thursday, shooting “indiscriminately” and setting buildings on fire, said Abwaku Kabu, a militia leader.
In many parts of Nigeria, communities have resorted for self-defense to armed vigilantes or militias, who work alongside the army.
“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.
A body was found on Friday morning, local community leader Ayuba Alamson said, raising the number of dead to seven.
The toll could rise as villagers fled into the bush during the attack and some people are still unaccounted for.
The assailants, who drove from the group’s nearby Sambisa forest enclave, looted medical supplies from a hospital before setting it ablaze, the militia leader said, adding they also burnt a church and abducted a priest.
The village is located only 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Chibok, where Boko Haram kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls six years ago.
Separately on Thursday, gunmen attacked another Christian community in Garkida, in neighboring Adamawa state, looting drug stores and food supplies before torching homes, residents told AFP.
There were no reports of casualties from that attack.
Nigeria’s security agency, the Department of State Services, issued a warning on Tuesday about planned attacks.
The DSS asked Nigerians “to be extra vigilant and report strange movements,” while assuring that it was “collaborating with other sister agencies to ensure that adequate measures are put in place for protection of lives and property.”
President Muhammadu Buhari in a statement on Thursday “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,” Buhari said in a written Christmas message.
The 78-year-old urged 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.”
The decade-long conflict in Nigeria’s northeast has killed 36,000 people and displaced around two million from their homes, according to the United Nations.
Violence has spread to neighboring Niger, Chad and Cameroon, prompting regional countries to form a military coalition to fight the extremist groups.
Three Cameroon civilians killed in overnight Boko Haram raidBoko Haram fighters have killed three civilians in Cameroon’s far north bordering ... Africa
Boko Haram kills 12 and abducts seven in a raid northeast NigeriaBoko Haram militants on Sunday killed 12 people and abducted seven others in a ... Africa
Boko Haram kills 69, razes village in northern Nigeria: SourcesBoko Haram gunman killed at least 69 people and razed a village to the ground in ... World News
Boko Haram extremists kill 14 in attack on western Chad villageFourteen people were killed and 13 were missing after Boko Haram extremists ... World News
Boko Haram killed 19 herders in northeast NigeriaBoko Haram terrorists gunned down 19 cattle herders Saturday in northeast Nigeria, ... World News
Sudan hands over alleged Boko Haram members to ChadSudan handed over alleged members of the extremist group Boko Haram to its ... Middle East