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Nigeria

Nigerians flee army after day of Boko Haram attacks

Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde

Hundreds of people fled their homes in Potsikum, north-east Nigeria, Saturday following all-night gun battles between Islamists and the security forces. Over 20 Christians have been killed in the north of the country in attacks claimed by the Boko Haram sect.

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Residents of the Dogo Tehbo and Dogo Nini areas fled their homes Saturday, telling reporters they feared that soldiers would attack their homes, as they have been accused of doing in Maidiguiri.

Dossier: Sharia wars - Boko Haram v the military in northern Nigeria

The town is in the area placed under emergency rule by President Goodluck Jonathan last week.

Local people said that there were a number of deaths after all-night fighting between Boko Haram and police and military, although officials refused to put a figure of dead and wounded.

Dozens of armed Islamist stormed the town and attacked police headquarters, a police barracks and two banks on Friday.

Dozens of soldiers were deployed Saturday, taking up positions around the police HQ.

Other attacks in the Muslim-majority north were reported:

  • Five gunmen opened fire on Christian Igbos mourning a friend shot dead the previous night in Mubi, Adamawa state – residents said 17 were killed, police confirmed 12 with between two and five killed on Thursday night;
  • At least eight people killed in an attack on a church in Yola, Adamawa state, according to a local journalist and a hospital source;
  • Six people, including the pastor’s wife, killed when gunmen attacked a church in Gombe.

Yola, Mubi and Gombe are not in areas covered by the emergency law.

A purported Boko Haram spokesperson, Abdul Qaqa, claimed responsibility for the Mubi attacks, saying they aimed to enforce an ultimatum he issued last Sunday for Christian “southerners” to leave the north within three days.

He called on Jonathan to free all arrested Boko Haram members as a condition for the attacks to stop.

Bombings at Christmas killed 49 people and led some Christian leaders to declare that they would defend themselves if attacks continued.

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