Islamic militants killed hundreds of people in an attack on a border town in Nigeria's remote northeast, a state government official said yesterday.
Shops and homes were set ablaze and razed in the attack on Monday night on Gamboru Ngala, on the border with Cameroon, Borno state information commissioner Mohammed Bulama said.
He said the fatality "figures are high - hundreds - but we are still awaiting details from the military authorities".
As many as 300 people were killed in the attack, according to local newspapers. The militants sprayed gunfire into the crowds of people at a busy market that is open at night when temperatures cool in the semi-desert region,
Nigerian federal senator Ahmed Zannah said the attack lasted about 12 hours, according to the newspaper. The insurgents set homes on fire and gunned down residents who tried to escape from the flames, it said.
Zannah blamed fighters of the home-grown Boko Haram terrorist network that has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of 276 teenage girls and is threatening to sell them into slavery.
Nigerian police yesterday offered a US$300,000 reward for information leading to the girls' rescue. The mass kidnapping has triggered an international outcry and protests in Nigeria, piling pressure on the government.
The United States has offered to send a team to Nigeria to help the search efforts.
US President Barack Obama told ABC the kidnappings "may be the event that helps to mobilise the entire international community to finally do something against this horrendous organisation that's perpetrated such a terrible crime".
Associated Press, Agence France-Presse