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Nigerian 'teenagers, elderly' among scores killed by Boko Haram

Gunmen have attacked the remote village of Njaba in northeast Nigeria, killing scores of residents, including many teenagers. Survivors and military sources have blamed Boko Haram insurgents.

Survivors said as many as 68 people were killed in the dawn attack on Thursday and accused the gunmen of deliberately targeting children.

The AFP news agency quoted witnesses as saying heavily armed militants stormed the village in Borno state "from all directions" and then fired on fleeing residents, including "teenagers and the elderly."

"The terrorists were armed to the teeth," added Falmata Bisika. "Four of my grandchildren have been killed."

The 62-year-old woman spoke to reporters in Maidurguri after she had fled to the Borno state capital about 100 kilometers (60 miles) to the north.

Mimuni Haruna, 42, said he hid in a silo at the back of his house during the prolonged attack before fleeing to Maiduguri.

"I participated in the counting of dead bodies. Sixty-eight people were killed," Haruna told AFP.

Local protection force leader Ali Mulai said the "victims included boys and girls between the ages of 13 and 19 and other older residents who were either shot dead or slaughtered."

A Nigerian military source quoted by Reuters said service personnel "couldn't access the area" because the village was "very remote."

President Goodluck Jonathan, who is seeking re-election in a poll postponed until March 28, has been widely criticized for failing to stem the insurgents' six-year campaign that has claimed thousands of lives and displaced over 1.5 million people.

Insurgents 'converge' on Gwoza

Eastern Nigerian senator Ali Ndume said insurgents had in recent days converged on the northeastern town of Gwoza, a Boko Haram headquarters near Nigeria's border with Cameroon.

Ndume said the group appeared to be preparing to defend Gwoza from an expected military advance, possibly by Chadian troops.

Operating with Nigeria's permission, Chadian forces have recently seized back from Boko Haram some important towns in Borno state.

Many residents fled Gwoza when the insurgents took over last June, but some elderly residents remained.

One witness told AFP on Thursday that remaining elderly male residents were rounded up on Tuesday and executed in front of their wives.

"The Boko Haram men brought out brand new guns from cartons, tested them and shot dead all the men who they forced to lie face down," the witness said.

Chad's Deby warns Shakau

On Wednesday, Chadian President Idriss Deby said he knew the whereabouts of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau and called on him to surrender.

Deby said Shekau had fled the town of Dikwa last month when Chadian troops chased out Boko Haram fighters.

Schoolgirls' parents meet officials

In Maiduguri, parents and relatives of 200 schoolgirls abducted last year by Boko Haram have met with Nigerian government officials behind closed doors.

On television, President Jonathan said he believed the sect was still holding the girls in northeastern Nigeria as human shields to foil potential rescue bids.

ipj/sms (AFP, Reuters, dpa, AP)

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