Nigerian radical Islamist group Boko Haram burnt children alive in its razing of the northeastern village of Dalori, officials said on Monday as the death toll rose to 86.
The group’s militants attacked the village, situated approximately five kilometers (three miles) from Boko Haram’s birthplace, the city of Maiduguri, on Saturday in an arson, shooting and suicide bomb attack.
Three female suicide bombers detonated explosives. The militants also attempted to storm a nearby refugee camp that is home to more than 25,000 people.
A survivor of the attack, who hid in a tree, said he witnessed the group firebombing huts in the village and heard the screams of children burning to death.
By Sunday afternoon, 86 bodies had been collected from the village, Mohammed Kanar, area coordinator of the National Emergency Management Agency, told Associated Press. A further 62 people were hospitalized with burns, Abba Musa of the State Specialist Hospital in Maiduguri confirmed.
Community leader Malam Masa Dalori told British newspaper The Guardian that many of the villagers went into hiding at the onset of the attack.
“They came in Golf saloon cars and began to shoot sporadically. Many people ran to the bush including myself,” he said. “When we came back in the morning the entire community had been razed. At least 50 people were killed, and there are many people wounded.”
When Nigerian soldiers arrived, they could not force the militants out of the town as they were better armed, and the group only retreated after some four hours when more Nigerian military reinforcements arrived at the scene.
The Nigerian military has continued to conduct a security operation against Boko Haram in the country’s northeastern regions, causing the group to revert to deadly attacks on unprotected villages and asymmetric warfare in crowded places such as markets or places of worship.
Boko Haram, which pledged allegiance to the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) in 2015, has waged an insurgency against Nigerian authorities since 2009 in its bid to create a mini-state under Islamic law. It has forced at least 2.6 million people from their homes, killing at least 17,000 people and abducting hundreds, including the 276 schoolgirls kidnapped in Chibok village in April 2014, prompting an international outcry.
Correction: This article originally stated that Dalori is a village in northwestern Nigeria, it has been amended to reflect that the village is in northeastern Nigeria.