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Gunmen Believed to Be Boko Haram Militants Attack Nigerian Town

  • Heather Murdock

Map of Nigeria, Africa

Map of Nigeria, Africa

Gunmen believed to be Boko Haram militants have raided a farming town in northeastern Nigeria, killing dozens of people and burning homes. Locals say parts of the region have been cut off from the government and militants control the roads.

Residents say gunmen stormed the remote town of Damboa in southern Borno state around 5 a.m. Friday. The attack was one of several in the area over the past two weeks.

Witnesses say by the time this one was over, half of the buildings left standing after the last attack were burned down. Bodies lay scattered in the streets, to be picked up by civilian volunteer teams.

The townspeople had little chance against the militants. Residents say security forces abandoned the town two weeks ago, after Boko Haram attacked a military outpost, killing soldiers and police officers.

Some villagers say their only weapons are sticks and locally-made, obsolete “Dane guns.”

Despite continued near-daily attacks, the Nigerian government says recent agreements made with neighboring countries will help end the five-year-old Boko Haram insurgency. Doyin Okupe is the senior special assistant on public affairs to President Goodluck Jonathan.

“We have what it takes. We have the military might. We have the resources," he said. "We have the men and we have the will. Now that we have gotten cooperation with our neighbors in terms of intelligence and support we will win this war.”

Okupe says security forces are also doing everything in their power to rescue more than 200 girls who were kidnapped by Boko Haram more than three months ago.

The failure to rescue the girls or stop the relentless Boko Haram attacks has sparked strong criticism of President Jonathan's government.

This week, the Nigerian president asked lawmakers to approve a $1 billion request for foreign loans to upgrade military equipment.

Human Rights Watch says Boko Haram killed more than 2,000 civilians in the first six months of this year alone - the large majority of them in Borno state.

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