Posted by News Express | 22 April 2013 | 3,667 times
At least 185 civilians have been reported killed in intense fighting between Nigeria’s Joint Military Task Force (JTF) and Boko Haram Islamist militants in the far northern town of Baga close to the country’s border with Chad Republic.
The number of combatant casualties on both sides is unknown.
A BBC report this morning quoting an Associated Press dispatch has it that unnamed Nigerian Government and military officials confirmed that rocket-propelled grenades and heavy gunfire erupted in the remote and previously peaceful town of Baga, on Friday evening.
Some 2,000 homes were reportedly destroyed during what is apparently one of the deadliest clashes since the beginning of the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria’s predominantly Muslim north, the report said.
“Residents of Baga fled into the bush and only returned on Sunday afternoon to find much of the town destroyed and human and animal corpses strewn through the streets,” the report said, adding:
“One local journalist said this marked a significant escalation in the insurgency in the area, with the militants using heavier weapons than in previous attacks.
“Residents said most of the bodies had been burned beyond recognition in blazes that had destroyed much of the town.
“One resident, Bashir Isa, told Associated Press: ‘Everyone has been in the bush since Friday night; we started returning to town because the governor came. To get food to eat in the town now is a problem because even the markets are burnt. We are still picking corpses of women and children in the bush and creeks.’ ”
News Express reports that the showdown came days ahead of the April 24 scheduled inauguration of the Boko Haram Amnesty Committee by President Goodluck Jonathan. While some of the insurgents have voted to accept the government’s olive branch and end the war, the mainstream Boko Haram leadership remains recalcitrant.
•Photo, courtesy BBC News, shows part of Baga in ruins after the clashes.
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