Islamic extremists grab northeast towns
Nigeria's Islamic extremists of Boko Haram have seized more towns along Nigeria's northeastern border with Cameroon and are adopting a new strategy of encouraging civilians to stay, witnesses said yesterday, as the militants pursue their new aim to carve out an "Islamic caliphate" under their black and white flag.
Nigerian army soldiers fled when hundreds of insurgents in stolen military armoured personnel carriers, trucks and motorcycles attacked Gulak, an administrative headquarters of Adamawa state, said resident Michael Kirshinga, who also ran away. The nearby towns of Duhu, Shuwa, Kirshinga and others also fell in assaults over Friday night and Saturday, witnesses said.
Further north, soldiers fought off rebels advancing Saturday on Maiduguri, the Borno state capital, headquarters of the military campaign against the insurgency and the birthplace of Boko Haram. The military attacked the rebels' camp at a village outside Kondudga, just 25 miles (40 kilometres) from Maiduguri.
Thunderous heavy gunfire could be heard in Maiduguri throughout Saturday, instilling fear in already panicked residents. Hundreds fled the city even before hearing the frightening sounds of battle.
The soldiers killed dozens of the extremists outside Konduga, said a member of the vigilante group that fights alongside the military. The soldiers were sent to retake the town of Bama, which fell to Boko Haram a week ago, but stopped at Konduga and refused to advance, said a vigilante commander. Both spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to the press.
Bama is littered with bodies, residents who fled the town told the AP. The extremists were killing men, but sparing women and children, they said.