Boko Haram insurgents kidnapped at least 185 women and children, and killed 32 people in a raid in northeastern Nigeria this week, local officials and residents said.
Gunmen in pickup trucks attacked the village of Gumsuri, just north of Chibok, on Sunday, shooting down men before herding women and children together.
“They gathered the women and children and took them away in trucks after burning most of the village with petrol bombs,” a local government official said on condition anonymity for fear of reprisal.
News of the attack took four days to emerge because of a lack of communication. Telecommunications towers in the region had been disabled in previous attacks.
Local officials learned of the attack from residents who fled to Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, where the officials had moved a year ago to escape Boko Haram attacks.
The militants stormed the village from two directions, overwhelming local vigilantes who had repelled Boko Haram attacks over the course of the year, said Gumsuri resident Umar Ari, who trekked for four days to Maiduguri.
”They destroyed almost half the village and took away 185 women, girls and boys,” Ari said.
Resident Modu Kalli said the militants fired heavy machine guns on the village and poured canisters of gasoline on houses before setting them on fire.
“We lost everything in the attack. I escaped with nothing, save the clothes I have on me,” Kalli said.
Hundreds of residents of Gumsuri continue to arrive in Maiduguri, which has been struggling to accommodate thousands of residents fleeing towns and villages overrun by Boko Haram.
Campaign of violence
Boko Haram has terrorized northern Nigeria regularly since 2009, attacking police, schools, churches and civilians, and bombing government buildings.
This month, at least one female Boko Haram suicide bomber killed five people in Maiduguri. Last month, suicide bombings killed nearly 180 people. More than half of the victims died in an attack on a mosque that many suspect Boko Haram was behind.
The group has targeted mainstream Islam, saying that it does not represent the interests of Nigeria’s 80 million Muslims and that it perverts Islam.
In April, Boko Haram militants drew international condemnation when they kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls, many of whom they later said they sold into slavery.
At least 5,000 people have died at Boko Haram’s hands, according to a U.S. Congressional Research Service report, making it one of the world’s deadliest terrorist organizations.