KANO – Boko Haram fighters opened fire on a group of loggers in a remote village in northeast Nigeria on Saturday, killing four people, a survivor and a militia leader said.
Gunmen on motorcycles attacked the loggers while they were loading firewood into pickup vans at Maiwa village, 20 kilometres (12 miles) from Maiduguri, the Borno state capital, they said.
The gunmen burned three vehicles laden with firewood heading to the volatile city.
"Four loggers were shot dead by the Boko Haram gunmen who also burnt three vehicles loaded with firewood," said Ibrahim Liman, a leader of a militia force fighting the insurgents.
He said other loggers escaped the assault.
The attackers, who rode on six motorcycles, struck at the logging site around 4:40 pm (1540 GMT), said logger Haruna Dahiru.
"Sixteen of them (Boko Haram) came on six motorcycles, riding in twos and threes, and opened fire on us without saying a word," he said.
"They killed four of our colleagues and set fire to three pickup vans we loaded with firewood to bring to Maiduguri to sell," he added.
Boko Haram's violence has killed over 20,000 people and displaced some 2.6 million since 2009, triggering a dire humanitarian crisis in the region.
Most of the displaced rely on food handouts from aid agencies while others have turned to felling trees from the scanty vegetation which they sell to buy food.
The jihadists have increasingly targeted loggers, accusing them of spying and passing information to the military and the local militia fighting them.
In August Boko Haram fighters decapitated three loggers near Aisa-Wulomari village, 40 kilometres from Maiduguri while returning to the city.
In April eight loggers were killed and their bodies burnt by the insurgents at Kayamla, 10 kilometres from Maiduguri while collecting firewood in a bush.