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Nigeria jihadist attack toll rises to 81

Residents said that men, women, and children had been mown down by the insurgents as they watched over their cattle at a watering hole outside the village.

FILE: A Nigerian police officer. Picture: AFP

KANO - The death toll from an attack by jihadists linked to the Islamic State on a village in northeast Nigeria rose to 81, officials said Wednesday.

Fighters believed to be from the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) faction shot and ran over residents with vehicles in the assault on the remote village of Felo on Tuesday.

Borno state governor Babagana Zulum Umara told journalists during a visit to the scene that residents "said they were able to identify 81 persons" killed in the attack.

"We are yet to make a complete assessment but we have listened to them that in this graveyard they buried 49 people while those that have been taken away by their siblings and parents were 32," the governor said.

Seven people including the village head were abducted, a statement from his office said.

A community leader told AFP on condition of anonymity that the increase in the death toll from an earlier figure of 69 was recorded after more victims died from the wounds they sustained.

The numbers kept rising because some of the injured were in critical condition and had died, he said.

"The latest toll is 81. We have more people with severe injuries. We hope they survive."

Residents said that men, women, and children had been mown down by the insurgents as they watched over their cattle at a watering hole outside the village.

Corpses were left strewn across the surrounding countryside in gruesome scenes.

Local leaders said earlier that the attack was thought to be in reprisal for the killing of jihadists by a community self-defence group formed to stop cattle thefts.

Northeast Nigeria has been wracked by a decade-long Islamist insurgency that has left at least 36,000 dead and displaced some 2 million.

ISWAP is a splinter faction that broke away from Boko Haram in 2016.

It has intensified attacks against the military in the last two years, repeatedly carrying out deadly strikes against soldiers.

In recent months there has been an increase in attacks on civilians blamed on the group.

The area where the latest attack took place, some 80 kilometres from regional capital Maiduguri, has been repeatedly targeted by the jihadists.

In response, the authorities sent more than 100 militiamen and local hunters to help defend against the assaults.