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Sunday, May 19, 2013

65 fleeing Boko Haram members arrested in Borno

The military on Saturday imposed a 24-hour
curfew in parts of a northeastern city as it pressed on
with a campaign against Boko Haram Islamists that
has sent residents fleeing the region.
Locals in a remote insurgent stronghold near the
border with Cameroon have begun fleeing their
homes after military fighter jets and helicopters
carried out air strikes on Islamist camps.
Nigeria launched the sweeping operation against
Boko Haram this week, deploying several thousand
troops across three states where President Goodluck
Jonathan declared a state of emergency after the
Islamists seized territory and chased out the
The group, which has said it is fighting to create an
Islamic Nigeria's mainly Muslim north, has carried
outscores of attacks in recent years, and has become
emboldened and better armed in recent months.
The military said dozens of insurgents have been
killed in the offensive targeting all three states put
under emergency decree, including Adamawa and
Yobe, but Boko Haram's traditional base of Borno is
expected to see the most bloodshed.
Borno state military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel
Sagir Musa in a statement listed 12 neighbourhoods
in the city of Maiduguri where a "24-hour curfew"
was being imposed.
In a separate release, the military said it had arrested
65 suspected Boko Haram members who were trying
toenter Maiduguri after fleeing aerial bombardments
In the Marte district of Borno,some residents were
fleeing east towards a town on the Cameroon border,
42 kilometres away (26 miles).
"It has been scary in the pastthree days," said Buba
Yawuri, whose home is in the town of Kwalaram in
Marte but who has fled to the border town Gomboru
"Fighter jets and helicopters kept hovering in the sky
and we kept hearing huge explosions from afar," he
told AFP.
He said that as the air assaults began, the security
forces told all residents to stay indoors, cutting off
his family's access to food and water.
"I couldn't hold on any longer. I took the bush
path"and reached Gomboru Ngala early Saturday, he
Shafi'u Breima, a resident of Gomboru Ngala, told
AFP thatthe border town is receiving a continuous
flow of people arriving from Marte and neighbouring
The phone network in Borno state has all but
collapsed since the emergency measures were
imposed but residents in Gomboru Ngala use phone
services from Cameroon and have been sporadically
The remote, thinly populated region has porous
borders where criminal groups and weapons have
flowed freely for years.
The military has sealed previously unguarded
crossings to block Boko Haram fighters from fleeing
during the offensive.
The military campaign could prove to be the biggest
ever against Boko Haram and is believed to be the
first time Nigeria has carried out air strikes within its
own territory in more than 25 years.
Aerial support was believed to have been used
against rioters in the north in the early 1980s.
Many have warned that there is a risk of high civilian
deaths and Nigeria's military has been accused of
massive rights violations in the past, including
indiscriminate attacks on civilians.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday that he
was "deeply concerned about thefighting in
northeastern Nigeria" and urged the security forces
to "apply disciplined use of force in all operations."
There are also doubts as to whether the insurgency
can be crushed by force, amid concern that the
militants will scatter and re-emerge when the
offensive eases.
Nigeria has been urged by various camps to tackle
the root social causes of the conflict, including acute
poverty and excessive government corruption which
has helped radicalise many young Muslims in the
The conflict is estimated to have cost 3,600 lives
since 2009, including killings by the security forces

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