Witnesses: Boko Haram militants slaughter hundreds

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Witnesses: Boko Haram militants slaughter hundreds
A woman with a sticker on her head bearing the slogan 'Bring back our girls' marches for the release of the more than 200 abducted Chibok school girls in Lagos on May 29, 2014, during a demonstration by civil society groups and celebrities of the film and entertainment industries to press for the girls' release, seven weeks after their abduction by Islamist militant group Boko Haram, and on the occasion of Nigeria's Democracy Day. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan vowed on May 29 total war against terrorism as the country's security forces stepped up efforts to rescue more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram Islamists 45 days ago. AFP PHOTO/PIUS UTOMI EKPEI (Photo credit should read PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 28: Students from Midreshet Shalhevet High School for Girls protest outside the Nigerian consulate for more action to be taken to rescue the school girls kidnapped by the extremist Islamist group Boko Haram In Nigeria on May 28, 2014 in New York City. More than 300 teenage girls were kidnapped by Boko Haram from their school in Chibok, Nigeria on April 15, 2014. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 17: French President Francois Hollande welcomes Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan (R) as the host of the security summit on Nigeria to discuss combating the dreaded Boko Haram militant group on May 17, Paris. Mustafa Sevgi-Anadolu Agency
PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 17: French President Francois Hollande (L2) welcomes the President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy (M) and Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan (R2) as the host of the security summit on Nigeria to discuss combating the dreaded Boko Haram militant group on May 17, Paris. Mustafa Sevgi-Anadolu Agency
PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 17: (L-R) Niger's president Mahamadou Issoufou, Cameroon's president Paul Biya, Nigeria's president Goodluck Jonathan, French president Francois Hollande, Chad's president Idriss Deby Itno and Benin's president Thomas Boni Yayi attend a joint press conference at the end of the Paris Summit for security in Nigeria, Saturday, May 17, 2014, at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, France.This African security summit is hold to discuss the Boko Haram threat to regional stability. (Photo by Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 17: Tchad's President Idriss Deby is escorted by French president Francois Hollande as he leaves the African security summit on May 17, 2014, at the Elysee palace in Paris, France. The African security summit is being held to discuss the Boko Haram threat to regional stability. (Photo by Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 17: (L-R) Niger's president Mahamadou Issoufou, Cameroon's president Paul Biya, Nigeria's president Goodluck Jonathan, French president Francois Hollande, Chad's president Idriss Deby Itno and Benin's president Thomas Boni Yayi attend a joint press conference at the end of the Paris Summit for security in Nigeria, Saturday, May 17, 2014, at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, France.This African security summit is hold to discuss the Boko Haram threat to regional stability. (Photo by Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 17: (L to R) Nigeria's president Goodluck Jonathan (R) speaks with Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague (L) and US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman (C) prior a family photo during an African security summit on May 17, 2014, at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France. This African security summit is held to discuss the Boko Haram threat to regional stability. (Photo by Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images)
(LtoR) Niger's president Mahamadou Issoufou, Chad's president Idriss Deby Itno, Nigeria's president Goodluck Jonathan, France's president Francois Hollande, Cameroon's president Paul Biya, and Benin's president Thomas Boni Yayi pose for a photo during an African security summit to discuss the threat of Nigerian Islamist militant group Boko Haram to the regional stability, at the Elysee Palace in Paris on May 17, 2014. West African leaders met with French President Francois Hollande to bolster cooperation with Nigeria in its battle against Boko Haram Islamists after the abduction of 200 schoolgirls shocked the world. AFP PHOTO / ALAIN JOCARD (Photo credit should read ALAIN JOCARD/AFP/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 17: French President Francois Hollande (R) welcomes Cameroon's President Paul Biya (L) upon his arrival to an African security summit on May 17, 2014, at the Elysee palace in Paris, France. This African security summit is hold to discuss the Boko Haram threat to regional stability. (Photo by Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images)
Protestors hold placards as they demonstrate outside Nigeria House in central London on May 9, 2014, to demand the return of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls abducted by the Boko Haram Islamist group. Nigeria's military had advanced warning of the April 14 attack by Boko Haram that led to the kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls but failed to take immediate action, Amnesty International said. AFP PHOTO/Leon Neal (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images)
US Secretary of State John Kerry speaks about the kidnapped school girls by the Nigerian terrorist organization Boko Haram, during a press availability at the US State Department in Washington, DC, May 8, 2014. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 09: Protesters calling for the release of a group of abducted Nigerian schoolgirls gather outside Nigeria House on May 9, 2014 in London, England. 276 schoolgirls were abducted from their boarding school on 14 April, 2014 in the town of Chibok in north-eastern Borno state in Nigeria. The abductions have sparked protests around the world calling for the release of the girls who are being held by the militant group Boko Haram. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Soldiers walk to block the advancing civil society groups protesting the abduction of Chibok school girls during a rally pressing for the girls' release in Abuja on May 6, 2014, ahead of World Economic Forum. Members of civil society groups marched through the streets of Abuja and to the Nigerian defence headquarters to meet with military chiefs, to press for the release of more than 200 Chibok school girls abducted three weeks ago. Suspected Boko Haram Islamists have kidnapped eight more girls from Nigeria's embattled northeast, residents said on May 6, after the extremist group's leader claimed responsibility for abducting more than 200 schoolgirls last month and said in a video he was holding them as 'slaves' and threatened to 'sell them in the market'. AFP PHOTO/PIUS UTOMI EKPEI (Photo credit should read PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of civil society groups shout slogans to protest the abduction of Chibok school girls during a rally pressing for the girls' release in Abuja on May 6, 2014, ahead of World Economic Forum. Members of civil society groups marched through the streets of Abuja and to the Nigerian defence headquarters to meet with military chiefs, to press for the release of more than 200 Chibok school girls abducted three weeks ago. Suspected Boko Haram Islamists have kidnapped eight more girls from Nigeria's embattled northeast, residents said on May 6, after the extremist group's leader claimed responsibility for abducting more than 200 schoolgirls last month and said in a video he was holding them as 'slaves' and threatened to 'sell them in the market'. AFP PHOTO/PIUS UTOMI EKPEI (Photo credit should read PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)
Leader of Chibok community in Abuja Hosea Sambido (R) raises a newspaper reporting the death of two of the abducted Chibok school girls during a rally pressing for the girls' release in Abuja on May 6, 2014, ahead of World Economic Forum. Members of civil society groups marched through the streets of Abuja and to the Nigerian defence headquarters to meet with military chiefs, to press for the release of more than 200 Chibok school girls abducted three weeks ago. Suspected Boko Haram Islamists have kidnapped eight more girls from Nigeria's embattled northeast, residents said on May 6, after the extremist group's leader claimed responsibility for abducting more than 200 schoolgirls last month and said in a video he was holding them as 'slaves' and threatened to 'sell them in the market'. AFP PHOTO/PIUS UTOMI EKPEI (Photo credit should read PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)
One of the mothers of the missing Chibok school girls wipes her tears as she cries during a rally by civil society groups pressing for the release of the girls in Abuja on May 6, 2014, ahead of World Economic Forum. Members of civil society groups marched through the streets of Abuja and to the Nigerian defence headquarters to meet with military chiefs, to press for the release of more than 200 Chibok school girls abducted three weeks ago. Suspected Boko Haram Islamists have kidnapped eight more girls from Nigeria's embattled northeast, residents said on May 6, after the extremist group's leader claimed responsibility for abducting more than 200 schoolgirls last month and said in a video he was holding them as 'slaves' and threatened to 'sell them in the market'. AFP PHOTO/PIUS UTOMI EKPEI (Photo credit should read PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman carries placard to press for the release of missing Chibok school girls during a rally by civil society in Lagos on May 5, 2014. Boko Haram on Monday claimed the abduction of hundreds of schoolgirls in northern Nigeria that has triggered international outrage, threatening to sell them as 'slaves'. 'I abducted your girls,' the Islamist group's leader Abubakar Shekau said in the 57-minute video obtained by AFP, referring to the 276 students kidnapped from their boarding school in Chibok, Borno state, three weeks ago. AFP PHOTO / PIUS UTOMI EKPEI (Photo credit should read PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)
A policeman stand beside children holding as members of Lagos based civil society groups hold rally calling for the release of missing Chibok school girls at the state government house, in Lagos, Nigeria, on May 5, 2014. Boko Haram on Monday claimed the abduction of hundreds of schoolgirls in northern Nigeria that has triggered international outrage, threatening to sell them as 'slaves'. 'I abducted your girls,' the Islamist group's leader Abubakar Shekau said in the 57-minute video obtained by AFP, referring to the 276 students kidnapped from their boarding school in Chibok, Borno state, three weeks ago. AFP PHOTO / PIUS UTOMI EKPEI (Photo credit should read PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)
Women sit as they gather on May 8, 2014 during a meeting called by Congafen (the Coordination of the NGOs and Nigerien women associations) at the Youth house in Niamey, western Niger, to ask the United Nations (UN) to pursue in justice Boko Haram Islamists who are responsible for the abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls. Nigeria's president said today that Boko Haram's mass abduction of the schoolgirls in Nigeria would mark a turning point in the battle against the Islamists, as world powers joined the search to rescue the hostages. A few days before Boko Haram chief Abubakar Shekau claimed responsibility in a video, saying his extreme Islamist group was holding the schoolgirls as 'slaves' and threatening to 'sell them in the market'. AFP PHOTO / BOUREIMA HAMA (Photo credit should read BOUREIMA HAMA/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on April 3, 2014 in Maine-Soroa, eastern Niger, shows Nigerian children standing near a tent at a camp for refugees who fled the fighting between the Nigerian army and the Islamist rebels of Boko Haram. AFP PHOTO / STR (Photo credit should read BOUREIMA HAMA/AFP/Getty Images)
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MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) - Boko Haram militants dressed as soldiers slaughtered at least 200 civilians in three villages in northeastern Nigeria and the military failed to intervene even though it was warned that an attack was imminent, witnesses said on Thursday.

A community leader who witnessed the killings on Monday said residents of the Gwoza local government district in Borno state had pleaded for the military to send soldiers to protect the area after they heard that militants were about to attack, but help didn't arrive. The killings occurred in Danjara, Agapalwa, and Antagara.

Boko Haram 'Tricked Villagers'

"We all thought they were the soldiers that we earlier reported to that the insurgents might attack us," said a community leader who escaped the massacre and fled to Maiduguri, Borno state capital.

The militants arrived in Toyota Hilux pickup trucks - commonly used by the military - and told the civilians they were soldiers "and we are here to protect you all," the same tactic used by the group when they kidnapped more than 300 girls from a school in the town of Chibok on April 15.

After people gathered in the center on the orders of the militants, "they begin to shout 'Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar' on top of their voices, then they begin to fire at the people continuously for a very long time until all that gathered were all dead," said the witness who didn't want to be named for fear for his safety.

The slaughter was confirmed by both Mohammed Ali Ndume, a senator representing Borno and whose hometown is Gwoza, and by a top security official in Maiduguri who insisted on anonymity because he isn't allowed to speak to the media.

It took a few days for survivors to get word of the massacres to Maiduguri, the provincial capital, because travel on the roads is extremely dangerous and phone connections are poor or nonexistent.

The community leader wasn't shot because "I was going round to inform people that the soldiers had come and they wanted to address us," he said. As people were fleeing, other gunmen lurked outside the villages on motorcycles and mowed them down, he said.

Militants of Boko Haram, which wants to establish Islamic state in Nigeria, have been taking over villages in the northeast, killing and terrorizing civilians and political leaders as the Islamic fighters make a comeback from a year-long military offensive aimed at crushing them. The death toll from Monday's attacks is among the highest. Thousands of people have been killed in the 5-year-old insurgency, more than 2,000 so far just this year, and an estimated 750,000 Nigerians have been driven from their homes.

Nigeria's military has insisted that the big influx of troops and a year-old state of emergency in three states which gives them the power to detain suspects, take over buildings and lock down any area has the extremists on the run. But soldiers have told The Associated Press that they are outgunned and outnumbered by the insurgents, don't have bullet-proof vests, are not properly paid and have to forage for food.

And while Boko Haram has in large part been pushed out of cities in the northeast, the militants have been seizing villages with thatched-roof huts in the semi-arid region where they once held sway, boldly staking their claim by hoisting their black flags with white Arabic lettering, the AP reported this week.

The villages attacked on Monday are in the Gwoza local government, a regional political center whose emir was killed in a Boko Haram ambush on his convoy last week. Emirs are religious and traditional rulers who have been targeted for speaking out against Boko Haram's extremism.

Borno Gov. Kashim Shettima traveled on Saturday to Gwoza to pay his respects to the fallen emir and was quoted as saying it was a terrifying ride.

"If I say I was not petrified travelling through that ... road to Gwoza I would be lying because that road had been designated a no-go area for about two months now due to the incessant attacks and killings that occur there," the governor was quoted as saying by Information Nigeria, a web site. A local journalist who was in the convoy that was escorted by 150 soldiers counted at least 16 towns and villages that were deserted along the 135 kilometer (85 mile) route, according to the local media report.

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