Reports of decomposing bodies littering the streets of Damasak came as the president elect, Muhammadu Buhari, denounced the Takfiri group as a bogus group and vowed a hard line against them when he comes to power at the end of next month.
Northeast Nigeria has been relentlessly targeted throughout the terrorists’ six-year violence but there had been a lull in insurgency in recent weeks.
A coalition of troops from Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria has claimed major victories since February, reportedly flushing the terrorists out of areas they previously controlled.
The discovery of hundreds of bodies, including women and children, and the latest attacks underline both the brutality of the conflict and the continuing threat posed by the Boko Haram terrorists.
The grim find in Damasak “far outnumbered” that of about 100 bodies found in a mass grave under a bridge after the town was liberated in early March by Chadian forces, said local resident Kaumi Kusur.
“Bodies were found in houses, streets and many more in the Damasak river which has dried up,” he said, adding the victims were buried in 20 mass graves at the weekend.
Mohammed Sadiq, another local who helped in the burials on Saturday, put the death toll at more than 400 but the Borno state government did not state a precise figure, giving a toll of “hundreds”.
The victims had been covered by sand from the encroaching desert, with the burial ordered by the state authorities, which are looking at the return of thousands of people displaced by the violence.
Buhari, who takes office on 29 May, was elected last month on a pledge of a tougher approach to Boko Haram than the current administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.
The former military ruler said in a statement issued by his All Progressives Congress party: “No religion allows for the killing of children in school dormitories, in markets and places of worship.
“They have nothing to do with religion. They are terrorists and we are going to deal with them as we deal with terrorists.”