At least seven people were killed in a Boko Haram attack on the majority-Christian village of Pemi in Nigeria’s Borno state on Christmas Eve, a local official said.
“Boko Haram attacked Pemi village, killed seven people and abducted another seven, including a pastor,” Kachallah Usman, secretary of the Chibok local government area, told CNN on Friday.
“They also burned down a church, a dispensary and several houses,” he added.
Pemi is located approximately 20 kilometers from Chibok, where Boko Haram kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls six years ago.
A man purporting to be Abubakar Shekau, a leader of one of Boko Haram’s factions, also said the group was responsible for the kidnapping of more than 300 schoolboys in the country’s northwest earlier this month, though governor Aminu Bello Masari refuted this claim, saying that “local bandits” were responsible.
Audu Chiwar, a former secretary of the Chibok community in Abuja, told CNN he received a call on Thursday from a local resident reporting that gunmen had opened fire in the village. The witness told Chiwar that several houses in the area had been burned down, as well as the Evangelical Church of the Brethren in the village of Pemi.
Several eyewitnesses told CNN that they too heard gunshots and saw people being shot.
An international Christian youth organization had been holding a parade in Pemi village to celebrate Christmas when the attack took place, according to eyewitness Bomo Ishaku.
Nkeki Mutah, chairman of the Chibok community in Abuja, has told CNN he believes Pemi village was specifically targeted because it is a Christian-majority community.
“Since 2018, virtually every two weeks, Boko Haram has been attacking Chibok, killing and abducting people,” Mutah said.
“They want to wipe Chibok out from the surface of the Earth.”