Local leaders say Boko Haram fighters are overrunning villages near the northeast Nigerian town of Chibok, forcing hundreds more people to flee as they loot and burn the area where nearly 300 schoolgirls were kidnapped in 2014.

Chibok local government chairman Yaga Yarkawa says nine villages within 25 kilometers (16 miles) of Chibok town have been razed in two weeks. Civilian defense fighter Bulama Abogu says he doesn't know if anyone has been killed because people are too scared to investigate.

Their accounts, along with multiple suicide bombings in Maiduguri city and attacks on army outposts, raise doubts about military and government claims that the 7-year-old insurgency is nearly defeated. Instead, Nigeria's homegrown Islamic extremists have stepped up attacks as the rainy season draws to an end.