Maiduguri: Suspected Boko Haram gunmen launched a deadly raid Tuesday on a village near the town of Chibok where more than 200 schoolgirls were kidnapped in April, witnesses and a security source said.
The attack in Kautikari in northeast Borno state began just after sunrise when Islamists reportedly targeted local vigilantes who were guarding the area.
"It seemed they targeted the youths whom they feel are rising against them," said resident Musa Sani, referring to the local civil defence group.
He said the gunmen urged locals not to flee, but residents still ran to the bushlands as the attackers torched several buildings.
A security source in Borno`s capital Maiduguri confirmed the attack but declined to provide details.
Witnesses said as many as 15 people may have been killed but there was no toll available from an official source.
Kautikari is just a few kilometres from the town of Chibok, where Boko Haram kidnapped 276 girls from a secondary school in April. Fifty-seven of the hostages have since escaped.
After that mass abduction, which drew worldwide condemnation, President Goodluck Jonathan vowed to secure the area, including by deploying more troops.
But that promise has proved hollow, with residents in some cases relying entirely on vigilantes for protection.
Sani and another resident, Yusuf John, who fled the village during the attack, said there were no security forces in the area.
"We don`t have soldiers or policemen protecting us, we are just on our own and therefore vulnerable," Sani said.
Jonathan, who is running for re-election in February 14 polls, has faced intense pressure over his response to the five-year Boko Haram uprising, which has claimed more than 13,000 lives.
The Islamists are believed to control large swathes of territory in Borno as well as several towns and villages in two other northeastern states, Adamawa and Yobe.
Experts have cast doubt on Nigeria`s ability to hold national elections in February, with unrest rising in parts of the northeast.