Hundreds of bodies – too many to count – remain strewn in the bush in Nigeria from an Islamic extremist attack that Amnesty International says may be the “deadliest massacre” in the history of Boko Haram.

Mike Omeri, the government spokesman on the insurgency, said fighting continues for Baga, a town on the border with Chad where insurgents seized a key military base on January 3 and attacked again on Wednesday.

“Security forces have responded rapidly, and have deployed significant military assets and conducted air strikes against militant targets,” Omeri said in a statement.

District head Baba Abba Hassan said most victims are children, women and elderly people who could not run fast enough when insurgents drove into Baga, firing rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles on town residents.

“The human carnage perpetrated by Boko Haram terrorists in Baga was enormous,” Muhammad Abba Gava, a spokesman for poorly armed civilians in a defence group that fights Boko Haram, said.

An Amnesty International statement said there are reports the town was razed and as many as 2000 people killed.

If true, “this marks a disturbing and bloody escalation of Boko Haram’s ongoing onslaught,” said Daniel Eyre, Nigeria researcher for Amnesty International.

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AAP