Nigerian radical Islamist group Boko Haram burnt children alive in its razing of the northwestern village of Dalori on Saturday night, officials said on Monday as the death toll rose to 86.
A survivor of the attack, who hid in a tree, told The Associated Press he witnessed the group firebombing huts in the village and heard the screams of children burning to death.
The shooting, burning and explosions from three suicide bombers continued for nearly four hours in the unprotected area, survivor Alamin Bakura said, weeping on a telephone call to AP. He said several of his family members were killed or wounded.
Scores of charred corpses and bodies with bullet wounds littered the streets from Saturday night’s attack on Dalori village and two nearby camps housing 25,000 refugees, according to survivors and soldiers at the scene just 3 miles from Maiduguri, the birthplace of Boko Haram and the biggest city in Nigeria’s northeast.
The violence continued as three female suicide bombers blew up among people who managed to flee to neighboring Gamori village, killing many people. The militants also attempted to storm a nearby refugee camp that is home to more than 25,000 people.
Troops arrived at Dalori around 8:40 p.m. Saturday but were unable to overcome the attackers, who were better armed, said soldiers who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press.
The Boko Haram fighters only retreated after reinforcements arrived with heavier weapons, they said.
Journalists visited the carnage Sunday and spoke to survivors who complained it had taken too long for help to arrive from nearby Maiduguri, the military headquarters of the fight to curb Boko Haram. They said they fear another attack.
86 bodies were collected by Sunday afternoon, according to Mohammed Kanar, area coordinator of the National Emergency Management Agency. Another 62 people are being treated for burns, said Abba Musa of the State Specialist Hospital in Maiduguri.
Boko Haram, which pledged allegiance to ISIS in 2015, has been attacking soft targets, increasingly with suicide bombers, since the military last year drove them out of towns and villages in northeastern Nigeria.
The extremist group has waged an insurgency against Nigerian authorities since 2009 in its bid to create a mini-state under Islamic law.
The 6-year Islamic uprising has killed about 20,000 people and driven at least 2.6 million from their homes.