LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) -- Islamic militants killed hundreds of people in an attack on a border town in Nigeria's remote northeast, escalating the country's violent insurrection in which more than 270 schoolgirls have been kidnapped.
As many as 300 people were killed when a band of extremists attacked the town of Gamboru Ngala, on Nigeria's border with Cameroon, according to local press reports. The attack and hundreds of casualties were confirmed Wednesday by Borno state information commissioner Mohammed Bulama who spoke to The Associated Press by telephone Wednesday. Shops and homes were set ablaze and razed in the attack, he said.
Workers sit beside a banner as they press for the release of the schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram more than two weeks ago during a workers' rally in Lagos on May 1, 2014. The mass kidnapping in the Chibok area of northeastern Borno state was one of the most shocking attacks in Boko Haram's five-year extremist uprising, which has killed thousands across the north and centre of the country. AFP PHOTO/PIUS UTOMI EKPEI PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images
The news of the attack adds to Nigeria's growing crisis from the Islamic extremists' violent campaign of bombings, attacks and abductions. The militant Boko Haram rebels are holding captive 276 teenage students, after abducting them from their boarding school in Chibok, also in northeastern Borno state.
In the attack on Gamboru Ngala the militants sprayed gunfire into the crowds of people at a busy market that was open Monday night when temperatures cool in the semi-desert region, reported ThisDay newspaper.
Nigerian federal Senator Ahmed Zannah said the attack lasted about 12 hours, according to the newspaper. The insurgents set homes on fire and gunned down residents who tried to escape from the flames, reported the paper.
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 BOUREIMA HAMA/AFP/Getty Images
Zannah blamed fighters of Nigeria's homegrown Boko Haram terrorist network that has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of 276 teenage girls and is threatening to sell them into slavery.
Boko Haram's five-year-old Islamic uprising has claimed the lives of thousands of Muslims and Christians. More than 1,500 people have died in their attacks so far this year. The insurgents say Western influences are corrupting and they want to impose an Islamic state in Nigeria, a country of 170 million of whom half are Christian.