LAGOS, Nigeria — A gun battle between Nigerian soldiers and suspected Islamic militants that began on April 19 killed at least 185 people in the northeast town of Baga.
The fighting began after a patrol was attacked near a mosque where fighters with the Boko Haram group hid weapons in the past, Brigadier General Austin Edokpaye said on a visit to the area yesterday. Militants at the mosque “came out with heavy firepower” including rocket-propelled grenades, he said.
“The soldiers were mindless that night,” Baga resident Mallam Bana told the regional governor, Kashim Shettima, during the visit. “They killed and burnt our houses, chased everyone into the bush including women and children. So far we have buried 185 corpses.”
Edokpaye denied the government was to blame for the deaths, saying that Boko Haram members used civilians as human shields. He said one military officer died.
Hundreds of people have been killed since Boko Haram began a violent campaign in 2009 to impose Islamic law in Africa’s biggest oil producer.
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