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Boko Haram kills dozens in Nigeria attacks

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-05-22

Boko Haram militants killed at least 48 people in separate attacks on three Nigerian villages overnight Wednesday, residents and officials said, just hours after two car bombs ripped through the central city of Jos, leaving more than 100 dead.

The armed extremists attacked the three villages between Tuesday night and early Wednesday, according to residents and a state intelligence agent who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to give information to reporters.

Apagu Maidaga of Alagarno said residents of that village hid in the bush while the extremists torched their homes.

“We saw our village (go) up in flames as we hid in the bush waiting for the dawn; we lost everything,” he said.

US sends marines to help search for Nigerian girls

The United States has deployed 80 marines to Chad to assists in the search for the more than 200 schoolgirls who were abducted by Islamist militant group Boko Haram in Nigeria last month, US President Barack Obama said Wednesday.

Obama said the troops will help with intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft for missions over northern Nigeria. According to news agency AP, the force will stay in Chad until its support is no longer needed.

Chad shares a portion of its western border with northeastern Nigeria.

The Nigerian government came under intense criticism for its initial response to the kidnappings. Since then, the international community has pledged its assistance.

In Jos, where at least 118 people were killed and 64 others hospitalized after Tuesday’s twin bomb attacks, residents joined rescue workers armed with body bags in looking for missing loved ones.

Most victims were women and children vendors, said Mohammed Abdulsalam of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

“We expect to find more bodies in the rubble,” Abdulsalam said.

Religious rivalry

Jos is tense with fears the attack blamed on Islamic extremists could inflame religious rivalry. The city in central Nigeria sits on a volatile fault line dividing Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north from the predominantly Christian south and has been a flashpoint in the past for deadly conflict between adherents of the two religions.

Boko Haram, the group suspected in the attack, wants to impose an Islamic state under strict Shariah law in Nigeria, though half the country’s 170 million people are Christians.

Officials in at least three other central and central-north states have suggested the extremists are feeding into tribal and religious tensions to spread the insurgency from their stronghold in Nigeria’s northeast into an area where thousands have been killed in recent years in disputes over land, water, religion and tribe.

President Goodluck Jonathan tried to assure Nigerians their government “remains fully committed to winning the war against terror”.

Attacks growing deadlier

But extremist attacks have increased in frequency and deadliness this year, with more than 2,000 killed in the insurgency compared to an estimated 3,600 between 2010 and 2013.

Boko Haram’s 5-year-old uprising has grabbed international attention with the abduction of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls who the extremists are threatening to sell into slavery.

On Monday, a car bomb at a bus station killed 24 people in the Christian quarter of the northern Muslim city of Kano. In April, two separate bomb blasts around another bus station, in the nation’s capital of Abuja, killed more than 120 people and wounded more than 200.

The attacks on Monday and Tuesday took place after regional and Western leaders pledged “total war” on the militant group at a weekend summit in Paris.

The US Embassy in Abuja has condemned Tuesday’s attack and said the United States is helping Nigeria to “grapple with violent extremism”.

It also urged calm in Jos. “We have seen reports that tensions are high in Jos, and we join the voices of those who are appealing for calm,” it said.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP)
 

Date created : 2014-05-21

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