Boko Haram began an attack against a small village in Nigeria on May 7, leaving 150 people dead, some of whom were burned alive. Several school girls in the village were abducted by the militant group.
The assault occurred on Gamboru Ngala, which raises concern about whether the Nigerian government can retake control of the region from the entrenched terror group.
Word of the attack follows news that President Goodluck Jonathan, who has been under fire for his handling of the mass abduction, accepted U.S., British and Chinese offers of assistance to find the schoolgirls, officials with those governments said.
It’s unclear what impact the latest attack could have on the international response to Nigeria’s fight with Boko Haram, which so far has concentrated on helping the government rescue 276 schoolgirls abducted on April 14.
The assault on the village came after military troops deployed to the area were called to the border area near Chad, where reports — later determined to be false — surfaced that the schoolgirls had been found with Boko Haram militants, witnesses and local officials said.
Witnesses described a well-coordinated attack that began shortly after 1:30 p.m. local time Monday at a busy outdoor market in Gamboru Ngala.
Wearing military uniforms, the militants arrived with three armored personnel carriers, they said.
They shouted “Allahu Akbar” — “God is great” — and opened up on the market, firing rocket-propelled grenades and tossing improvised explosive devices, witnesses said.
Some marketgoers tried to take shelter in shops only to be burned alive when the gunmen set fire to a number of the businesses, the witnesses said.
A few Nigerian soldiers who had been left behind at the village could not hold off the assault and were forced to flee, they said. Many sought safe haven in nearby Cameroon, they said.
The fighters also attacked the police station during the 12-hour assault, initially facing stiff resistance. They eventually used explosives to blow the roof off the building, witnesses said. Fourteen police officers were found dead inside, they said.
The final death toll could be closer to 300, Nigerian Sen. Ahmed Zanna told CNN.
Monday’s bloody attack by Boko Haram militants, some of whom U.S. officials say have been trained by al Qaeda, follows a pattern of seeking revenge against anybody who is perceived to have provided aid to the Nigerian government.