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Islamic extremists grab towns in northeast Nigeria

Islamic extremists grab towns in northeast Nigeria

Nigeria’s Islamic extremist group, Boko Haram, has seized more towns along Nigeria’s northeastern border with Cameroon and is adopting a strategy of encouraging civilians to stay, witnesses said Sunday, 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 armored personnel carriers, trucks and motorcycles attacked Michika on Sunday, said Marry Dauda, a fleeing resident.

She said an air force jet fighter arrived, but did nothing but surveillance. “The jet continued to hover over the town without attacking the terrorists,” she told The Associated Press.

On Saturday, the insurgents took 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 kilometers) from Maiduguri.

Thunderous gunfire could be heard in Maiduguri throughout Saturday, instilling fear in already panicked residents. Hundreds fled the city even before hearing the 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 further, said a vigilante commander. Both spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press.

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