Islamic militants in Nigeria have murdered at least a few hundred people—or perhaps more than 2,000—in attacks that began last weekend and continued again Wednesday, CNN reports. The extremist group Boko Haram began the assaults by storming into several villages, including Baga along the Chad border, in armored vehicles and trucks. The assailants then unloaded motorcycles, boarded them, and pursued people while firing at will. "Dead bodies litter the bushes in the area and it is still not safe to go and pick them (up) for burial," says a senior local official. "Some people who hid in their homes were burned alive." Security forces have responded with "significant military assets" including airstrikes, a government official tells the AP.
Most victims are women, children, and the elderly who were unable to outrun Boko Haram's assault weapons and rocket-propelled grenades, the Guardian reports. If the death toll really is around 2,000, "this marks a disturbing and bloody escalation of Boko Haram's ongoing onslaught," says an Amnesty International researcher. In fact, Amnesty says it may be Boko Haram's "deadliest massacre" ever. More than 10,000 have already died in Nigeria's 5-year insurgency. (Read more Boko Haram stories.)