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Hundreds Killed in Nigeria Militant Attack

by VOA News June 05, 2014

Gunmen believed to be Boko Haram militants have killed hundreds of civilians in new attacks in northeastern Nigeria.

Witnesses say the gunmen attacked at least three villages Monday and Tuesday in the Gwoza area of Borno state, a stronghold for the Islamist radical group.

It took survivors some two days to report the attacks to the state capital, Maiduguri, because of poor phone service and dangerous travel conditions.
​​Villagers say the militants, who came dressed as soldiers, opened fire on residents and burned down homes and businesses during the raids. They say Boko Haram has now raised its flag over several villages in the area and taken effective local control.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, gunmen suspected to be with Boko Haram raided Madagali, a town in nearby Adamawa state.

A VOA Hausa service correspondent in the region says the attackers burned down a local government office and a church. Local government council chairman James Abawus Watarda told VOA the few security personnel members that were in the area fled.

There was no immediate word on casualties.

Another official in the region said a second attack took place in wa Kubla. The town is near a junction where residents say there is a road that is frequently used by militants.

The Nigerian government has struggled to contain Boko Haram despite a state of emergency in the northeast and deployment of thousands of troops to the area.

On Wednesday, Nigerian officials denied a report that 15 officers, including 10 generals, have been court martialed for cooperating with Boko Haram militants.

Two officials -- military spokesman Major-General Chris Olukolade and government communications official Mike Omeri -- both told VOA that the report is 'not true.'

Omeri also told VOA's English to Africa service that the Nigerian government has launched a nationwide sensitization campaign that is designed to empower and engage citizens about the government's efforts to fight Boko Haram.

'It is counterterrorism awareness campaign material translated into various languages and distributed in neighborhoods, in the media and so forth and so on. It provides useful tips and other telephone contacts,' Omeri said.

Earlier, the Leadership newspaper reported the military officers were found guilty of giving information and ammunition to Boko Haram, which has said it wants to establish a strict Islamist state in northern Nigeria.

The militants have killed thousands of people over the past five years in attacks on schools, churches, mosques, bus stations, and other public places.

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