LAGOS, Nigeria — Islamic militants killed hundreds of people in an attack on a border town in Nigeria's remote northeast, a state government official said Thursday.
Shops and homes were set ablaze and razed in the attack Monday night on Gamboru Ngala, on Nigeria's border with Cameroon, Borno state information commissioner Mohammed Bulama told The Associated Press by telephone.
He said the fatality "figures are high — hundreds — but we are still awaiting details from the military authorities."
As many as 300 people were killed in the attack, according to local newspapers. The militants sprayed gunfire into the crowds of people at a busy market that is open at night when temperatures cool in the semi-desert region, reported ThisDay newspaper.
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.
Zannah blamed fighters of Nigeria's homegrown Boko Haram terrorist network that has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of 276 teenage 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.