Extremists in northeast Nigeria’s Borno state have killed at least 37 fishermen, militia sources and a local told AFP on Thursday, in the latest violence in the region.
Boko Haram insurgents who operate in the area alongside rivals linked to the ISIS group, ISWAP, often target locals to steal or because they accuse them of spying for the military or militiamen fighting them.
On Wednesday evening, a dozen fighters believed to be with Boko Haram opened fire on a group of fishermen outside Guggo village, 18 kilometers (12 miles) from the town of Dikwa, three sources said.
“We have recovered 37 bodies last night along the river bank and nearby bushes,” militia leader Babakura Kolo told AFP.
“The figure is not exhaustive and search for more bodies is ongoing in surrounding bushes,” Kolo said.
The fishermen were sorting out their catch of the day on the bank of a river when they were ambushed. Some scampered for safety, said a second militia member Umar Ari who gave the same death toll.
“The terrorists pursued the fishermen as they tried to flee, shooting them dead but three managed to escape and alerted Dikwa about the attack,” Ari said.
It was not clear how many had gone out fishing that day, said a local resident Abdullahi Kyari who also gave the same toll.
Neither the military nor local authorities have commented on the attack.
Since the insurgency began in 2009, at least 40,000 people have been killed and more than two million people have been displaced from their homes according to the UN.
The violence has also spread to parts of neighboring Niger, Chad and Cameroon, prompting a regional military coalition to fight the militants.