Boko Haram jihadists have raided three villages in northeastern Nigeria, killing five people and setting fire to several homes and fields, residents have said.
Armed members of the extremist group on Wednesday sped into the villages of Huyum, Sabongarin Huyum and Wasada on motorbike, killing five villagers and looting their property before setting fire to their homes and farms, witnesses said.
“The armed men arrived at 4 pm and for four hours they held us all hostage,” Huyum resident Bala Jonah said. “They killed five people and burnt down our houses and farmland, just when we were about to harvest our crops,” he added.
Hundreds of people living in the three villages fled for the relative safety of the town of Askira, located some 10 kilometres away. A local official from the village of Wasada confirmed the toll.
“There is no doubt the attacks were the work of Boko Haram. We have lost five men, our homes and our food,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
News of the attack has been slow to emerge because of the destroyed telecommunications infrastructure in northeast Nigeria, and restricted access.
The villages that the jihadists raided were located near Chibok, where Boko Haram kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls two years ago.
They are also near the Sambisa Forest, one of the group’s last bastions.
Boko Haram’s insurgency in Nigeria’s predominantly-Muslim north has claimed at least 20,000 lives and made more than 2.6 million homeless.
Nigerian troops with the help of neighbouring countries have recaptured swathes of territory from Boko Haram since early 2015, but the extremists have carried out sporadic attacks on remote villages in the restive region.