Maiduguri: Suspected Boko Haram Islamists armed with explosives attacked a series of churches on Sunday near Chibok, the northeastern town where more than 200 teenage girls were kidnapped in April, witnesses said.
"The attackers went to churches with bombs and guns," Timothy James, a Chibok resident said by phone, explaining that the targeted churches were roughly 10 kilometres (six miles) outside the town.
Enoch Mark, an outspoken Chibok leader since the April 14 kidnappings, gave a similar account, telling AFP in Lagos, "presently, as we are talking now, we are under attack".
"We cannot tell the number of dead bodies," he added. "I was told the attackers burnt at least three churches to the ground."
Mark further said that the military had not responded to distress calls after the attack began.
"They just went and got a hiding place in the bush," he told AFP.
While it was not immediately possible to verify the charge, if true, it would likely raise further questions about the military effort in the northeast, the epicentre of Boko Haram`s five-year deadly uprising.
Following the April abduction of 276 girls by Boko Haram from a secondary school in Chibok, parents and local leaders accused the military of doing almost nothing to secure the release of the hostages.
Fifty-seven of the girls escaped within days of the nighttime raid on the school and local officials have said that 219 are still being held.
International outrage has spread since the kidnappings and Nigeria has vowed to secure better secure in the area in the south of Borno state.
A local government official in Chibok who confirmed the attack and requested anonymity said Nigeria needed to step up its fight against Boko Haram, as residents in the northeast were being left to die with little protection.
"The federal government must do the right thing by taking the fight to the terrorists," he told AFP.
In the weeks after the shocking April abductions, a social media campaign involving prominent world leaders and celebrities drew unprecedented attention to the Boko Haram conflict.
Nigeria has accepted help from major world powers including the United States, France and Britain to rescue the hostage schoolgirls and improve its counter-insurgency tactics.
Some analysts had hoped that increased cooperation with Western militaries including intelligence sharing could help Nigeria cut down on Boko Haram attacks, which have been a relentless and often daily occurence throughout the year.
But so far the gains have been limited and the Chibok government official said the community was struggling to understand why they were consistently being left unguarded.
"It is beyond our comprehension that the terrorists are coming out in daylight to kill people," with no resistance from troops, he told AFP.