Nigeria militants kill dozens in Borno state attack

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Media captionThe BBC's Will Ross takes a look at the devastation left in the town of Konduga

About 39 people are believed to have been killed in an attack by Islamist militants on a Nigerian town.

Local residents said the attack on Konduga, in the north-east Borno state, lasted several hours, beginning shortly before sundown on Tuesday night with the arrival of gunmen in 4x4 trucks.

A mosque and more than 1,000 homes were razed to the ground, residents said.

The region is a stronghold of the Boko Haram Islamist group that is waging an insurgency against the government.

Konduga is 35km (22 miles) from the Borno state capital of Maiduguri.

An Associated Press reporter counted at least three children among 39 bodies ready for burial on Wednesday.

Wailing farmers described the attack on the town of 13,000 to visiting Borno state governor Kashim Shettima.

Soldiers and police stationed there fled, they said. They asked why it took hours for the military to scramble an aircraft that strafed the attackers until they fled.

A man who fled to Maiduguri told the BBC they were in the market when they suddenly heard gunshots coming from all directions and were forced to sneak out of the town under cover of darkness.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Borno is a stronghold of militant group Boko Haram, which is waging an insurgency against the government

Most survivors made their way to Maiduguri on foot. A Red Cross official in the city said all civilians had left Konduga by late Tuesday night.

The death toll has not yet been independently confirmed and a source at the Maiduguri Teaching Hospital said that the focus now was on saving the injured.

A spokesman for Col Muhammad Dole, of the Nigerian army, said the military was still awaiting full details of the attack.

Numerous villages in the area have been attacked, and hundreds killed, in recent months, despite Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states all being under emergency rule

Frustrated with their efforts to combat the rebellion, Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan replaced his top military brass on 16 January. The attack on Konduga is thought to have been the biggest in the restive region since those new appointments.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Nigeria's president is frustrated by the security forces' apparent lack of progress in defeating Boko Haram

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