Cape Town - At least 42 people were killed by suspected members of Islamist extremist sect Boko Haram in northern Nigeria, local newspaper Vanguard reported Sunday.

Gunmen attacked the three villages of Kanari, Wazarde and Gula in the Gamboru local government area of Borno State, close to the border with Cameroon, according to local officials.

Armed men arrived in the villages in the early hours of Saturday morning in trucks loaded with assault rifles, explosives and petrol bombs, residents said.

“The shooting went on for about seven hours. The gunmen had a field day and operated unchallenged,” the newspaper quoted a resident as saying.

The assault comes three weeks after at least 300 people were killed by Boko Haram in Gamboru.

On Friday, two traditional Muslim leaders had been ambushed and kidnapped by gunmen in Borno.

One of them was killed shortly after the abduction, a government spokesperson said. - Sapa-dpa