Nigerian Relief Workers Arrive in Baga After Boko Haram Clashes

Wednesday, 24 Apr 2013 08:48 AM


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ABUJA, Nigeria — Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency workers arrived in Baga after a clash between Islamist militants and soldiers that local officials said killed 185 people.

The relief teams, who in the morning were unable to enter the town because of lingering risks, “need to be cautious of their security,” agency spokesman Manzo Ezekiel said by phone Tuesday from Abuja, the capital. The workers are carrying food and medicine for those hurt or displaced by the combat, he said

The agency needs more time to tabulate the number of people forced to flee their homes, Ezekiel said. Defense Ministry spokesman Chris Olukolade’s mobile phone was switched off when called for comment.

The clash started after a soldier was killed on April 19 when a military patrol was attacked near a mosque where Islamist Boko Haram fighters have hidden weapons in the past, Brigadier General Austin Edokpaye said on April 21.

Local government official Lawan Kole said the same day Baga residents buried at least 185 people and 2,000 homes were torched. The military said Monday 30 Boko Haram fighters and one soldier were killed, while six civilians lost their lives.

President Goodluck Jonathan’s office said Monday that the government will investigate whether the military complied with the rules of engagement, and said the scope of death and destruction may have been “grossly exaggerated.”

The United States believes Nigeria needs to address “legitimate northern grievances” in the fight against Boko Haram, State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said April 22.

International rights groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have criticized Nigerian security forces for brutality while battling Boko Haram.

The militants have carried out gun and bomb attacks in the north of Africa’s top oil producer that have killed hundreds of people since 2009.

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