A government official and a self-defense fighter say Boko Haram extremists have gunned down nearly 100 Muslims praying in mosques in northeastern Nigeria.

They say the attack Wednesday night on the town of Kukawa came as people were praying ahead of breaking their fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. They say 97 people, mainly men, were killed.

A senior government official from the area said the Islamic extremists targeted several mosques in the town. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to give information to reporters.

Vigilante group spokesman Abbas Gava says its self-defense fighters in Kukawa said some militants broke into people's homes, killing women and children.

Boko Haram often defiles mosques where it believes clerics espouse too moderate a form of Islam.