DALORI, Nigeria — A survivor who hid in a tree says he watched Boko Haram fighters firebomb huts and heard the screams of children burning to death, among 86 people who officials say died in the latest attack by Nigeria’s homegrown Islamist extremists.
Scores of charred corpses and bodies with bullet wounds littered the streets after attacks Saturday night on the village of Dalori and two nearby camps housing 25,000 refugees, according to survivors and soldiers at the scene three miles from Maiduguri, the birthplace of Boko Haram and the biggest city in northeast Nigeria.
The shootings, burnings and explosions from three suicide bombers continued for nearly four hours in the unprotected area, survivor Alamin Bakura said, weeping during a telephone conversation with the Associated Press. He said several of his family members had been killed or wounded.
The violence continued as three female suicide bombers detonated their explosives among people who had managed to flee to the neighboring village of Gamori, killing many people, according to a soldier at the scene who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to journalists.
Soldiers arrived at Dalori about 8:40 p.m. Saturday but were unable to overcome the attackers, who were better-armed, said soldiers who also spoke on the condition of anonymity. The Boko Haram fighters retreated only after military reinforcements arrived with heavier weapons, they said.
Journalists visited the scene of the carnage Sunday and spoke to survivors who complained that it had taken too long for help to arrive from nearby Maiduguri, the military headquarters of the fight to curb Boko Haram. They said they fear another attack.
Eighty-six bodies were collected by Sunday afternoon, according to Mohammed Kanar, area coordinator of the National Emergency Management Agency. An additional 62 people are being treated for burns, said Abba Musa of the State Specialist Hospital in Maiduguri.
Boko Haram has been attacking soft targets, increasingly with suicide bombers, since the military drove them out of towns and villages in northeast Nigeria last year.
The six-year Islamist uprising has killed about 20,000 people and driven 2.5 million from their homes.
Umar reported from Abuja, Nigeria.