As many as 2000 people are feared dead in Nigeria in what Amnesty International has called the "deadliest massacre" in the history of Boko Haram.
This came as fighting continued on Friday for Baga, a town on the border with Chad, where insurgents had captured an important military base earlier in January. Militants attacked the area again on Wednesday leaving hundreds dead, Mike Omeri, the government spokesperson the insurgency has confirmed
"Security forces have responded rapidly, and have deployed significant military assets and conducted air-strikes against militant targets," Omeri said in a statement.
"The attack on Baga and surrounding towns, looks as if it could be Boko Haram's deadliest act in a catalogue of increasingly heinous attacks carried out by the group.," said Daniel Eyre, Nigeria researcher for Amnesty International, in a press release.
"If reports that the town was largely razed to the ground and that hundreds or even as many as two thousand civilians were killed are true, this marks a disturbing and bloody escalation of Boko Haram's ongoing onslaught against the civilian population."
District head Baba Abba Hassan was cited by Associated Press as saying that most of the victims were children, women and elderly people. They did not have time to flee when insurgents swiftly drove into Baga and fired rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles on random residents.
Muhammad Aba Gava, the spokesman for the local defense group, which has been fighting the insurgent group unsuccessfully told AP: ""The human carnage perpetrated by Boko Haram terrorists in Baga was enormous"
"No one could attend to the corpses and even the seriously injured ones who may have died by now," he said adding that civilians had to ultimately give up on counting the number of bodies stewed in the area.
In its statement, the Amnesty international further said: "This attack reiterates the urgent need for Boko Haram to stop the senseless killing of civilians and for the Nigerian government to take measures to protect a population who live in constant fear of such attacks".