Nine Boko Haram fighters are suspected of entering Kijimatari, a village in northeast Borno state, at around 2 am (0100 GMT), breaking into the homes of six men including the village chief before slitting their throats.
“The attackers evaded a nearby military checkpoint by entering the village through bush paths,” said Ibrahim Liman, the head of a local anti-jihadist militia force.
“The chief of the village was among the victims and it was clear the victims were deliberately targeted.”
Local resident Kulo Musa said that while the attackers had carried guns, they “chose to use knives” to avoid alerting soldiers manning a nearby checkpoint.
Musa said the killings were a reprisal for the arrest of two Boko Haram members who moved into the village claiming to have been displaced from their homes by the jihadists two months earlier.
“We believe the attackers suspected the six people they killed of tipping off the military which led to the arrest of the two Boko Haram fighters,” he said.
Nigerian troops re-took the nearby garrison town of Monguno and surrounding villages in February 2015, after losing it to Boko Haram for three weeks during which time the group ransacked the town’s military base and burnt homes.
Despite the liberation of Monguno and the reopening of the 135 kilometre highway (85 miles) that links it to the regional capital Maiduguri, sporadic attacks by Boko Haram continue.
Boko Haram’s bloody eight-year armed insurgency aimed at establishing a hardline Islamic state has killed at least 20,000 people and displaced more than 2.6 million.
The violence has also spilt into Nigeria’s neighbours — Niger, Chad and Cameroon.