Suspected Boko Haram fighters dressed as soldiers rounded up and killed at least 42 villagers in Nigeria’s northeast, the Reuters news agency has reported citing a police source.
Gunmen in military uniforms called villagers together late on Wednesday in Bardari and then opened fire, Reuters reported.
“The people couldn’t identify them in time as terrorists,” the police source said.
The fighters then fled, crossing a river and setting fire to houses in the neighbouring village of Kayamla, close to the regional capital of Maiduguri, he added.
The report came a day after witnesses said fighters had killed at least 200 civilians in three other villages in Gwoza district.
A community leader who witnessed the killings said that local residents had pleaded with the military to send soldiers to protect the area after they heard that the fighters were about to attack, but help did not arrive.
It took a few days for survivors to get word to Maiduguri because travel was dangerous and phone connections are poor, the AP news agency reported.
The killings earlier this week in Attagara, Agapalawa and Aganjara villages were confirmed by both Mohammed Ali Ndume, a senator representing Borno and whose hometown is Gwoza, and by a top security official in Maiduguri.
He insisted on anonymity, because he was not allowed to speak to the media.
Fighters from Boko Haram, which wants to establish Islamic law in Nigeria, have been taking over villages in the northeast, killing civilians and political leaders.
Thousands of people have died in its five-year-old campaign, more than 2,000 so far just this year, and an estimated 750,000 Nigerians have been driven from their homes.