The UN Refugee agency confirmed on Friday (13 February) an attack by Boko Haram fighters on a village in Chad, the first known lethal assault in the country by the Nigerian militant group.

Several people were killed, including a local chief, according to residents and security forces.

"Just overnight, we've received reports of the first attack on a village in Chad called Ngouboua, it's on the shores of Lake Chad. We are still getting information about how many people affected, we know that thousands of refugees were there", UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told a news conference in Geneva.

"The reports that we've received, the town was attacked by about 30 militants using boats, they attacked parts of the town itself, and the 'chef de canton' himself was killed.

"We were in contact with a refugee during the attack but the phone line went dead. We are still trying to find out more about the situation there," he added.

Dozens of militants arrived by motorised canoe at the fishing village on the shores of Lake Chad early in the morning, setting houses ablaze and attacking a police station.

Militants from the Sunni jihadist group, based in northern Nigeria less than 60 miles from the Chadian capital, have stepped up cross-border attacks in recent weeks in their campaign to carve out an Islamist emirate around the Lake Chad area which borders Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger.

"The violence in north-east Nigeria has caused more than 157,000 people to flee into Niger, Cameroon and Chad. One hundred thousand of those are in Niger, 40,000 in Chad, Cameroon, remaining in Chad. A further nearly one million people now are estimated to be internally displaced inside north-east Nigeria, according to the country's national emergency management agency," Edwards said.

Edwards said a Chadian humanitarian vehicle was attacked as it tried to escape and the UNHCR is asking for immediate access to help residents who are now fleeing the village and the country.

"With the violence that's plagued the north east spilling over into Niger, Cameroon and Chad, UNHCR is now calling for urgent humanitarian access to refugees and internally displaced people in these countries to provide urgently needed assistance. For many refugees, for locals, for aid workers too, the situation is now becoming increasingly terrifying," he said.