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Nigeria to Probe Clash With Islamist Militants

  • VOA News

Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima, center, visits injured victims of heavy fighting at a hospital in Baga, Nigeria, April 21, 2013.

Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima, center, visits injured victims of heavy fighting at a hospital in Baga, Nigeria, April 21, 2013.

Nigeria's president has ordered a probe into reports of high civilian casualties following a clash between Islamist militants and government security forces in the north.

President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday ordered a "full-scale" investigation to determine whether the military fully complied with established rules of engagement during weekend fighting in the town of Baga, in Borno state.

The Nigerian Red Cross said Monday that at least 187 people were killed, while another 77 were being treated for injuries. At least 300 homes were also set ablaze in the town which lies on the coast of Lake Chad.

Locals say the clashes began Friday when troops surrounded a mosque that allegedly was sheltering members of the radical Islamist sect Boko Haram.

A shootout ensued, with militants using heavy weaponry, including rocket-propelled grenades. Soldiers and local officials say the militants used civilians as human shields, while residents say soldiers deliberately set fires during the attack.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday expressed "shock and sadness" at the high number of civilian casualties.

Authorities blame Boko Haram for dozens of deadly bombings and shootings in northern Nigeria since 2009. Human Rights Watch says Boko Haram-related violence has killed 3,000 people, a toll that includes killings by security forces.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.
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