Islamic militants have killed hundreds of people in an attack on a border town in Nigeria's remote north-east, escalating the country's violent insurrection in which more than 270 schoolgirls have been kidnapped.
As many as 300 people were killed when a band of extremists attacked the town of Gamboru Ngala, on Nigeria's border with Cameroon, according to local press reports. The attack and hundreds of casualties were confirmed today by Borno state information commissioner Mohammed Bulama.
Shops and homes were set ablaze and destroyed in the attack, he said.
The news of the attack adds to Nigeria's growing crisis from the Islamic extremists' violent campaign of bombings, attacks and abductions. The militant Boko Haram rebels are holding captive 276 teenage students after abducting them from their boarding school in Chibok, also in north-eastern Borno state.
In the attack on Gamboru Ngala, the militants sprayed gunfire into the crowds of people at a busy market that was open at night when temperatures are cooler, ThisDay newspaper said.
Nigerian federal senator Ahmed Zannah said the attack lasted about 12 hours, according to the newspaper. The insurgents set homes on fire and gunned down residents who tried to escape from the flames, reported the paper.
Mr Zannah blamed fighters of Nigeria's home-grown Boko Haram terrorist network which has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of the girls and is threatening to sell them into slavery.
Boko Haram's five-year-old Islamic uprising has claimed the lives of thousands of Muslims and Christians. More than 1,500 people have died in their attacks so far this year. The insurgents say Western influences are corrupting and they want to impose an Islamic state in Nigeria, a country of 170 million of whom half are Christian.