Feb. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Dozens of people were killed by suspected Boko Haram Islamists in the northeastern Nigerian town of Bama yesterday, officials and residents said.
Akura Satomi, head of a local youth volunteer group, said by phone that members of his organization helping with relief efforts had discovered at least 96 bodies, which were given to the families for burial. Baba Shehu Gulumba, head of Bama’s local government, said about 90 people died. Lawal Tanko, a police spokesman who announced an initial 47 deaths yesterday, couldn’t immediately confirm the higher toll.
The militants arrived in the town at about 4 a.m. yesterday and started shooting and throwing grenades, the local chief, Alhaji Kyari Ibn Ibrahim, said today in a statement sent to reporters in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state. He said they attacked his palace gates with grenades and explosives, and burned all the vehicles they found there.
Boko Haram is fighting to impose Islamic Shariah law in Africa’s biggest oil producer. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan imposed a state of emergency on Borno and two other states last May. The U.S. State Department designated Boko Haram a terrorist organization in November.
Nigeria’s 170 million people are roughly divided between Christians, mainly in the south, and Muslims, mostly in the north. Bama is 130 kilometers (81 miles) from Maiduguri.
Police officer Tanko said yesterday that the attackers destroyed local government offices, schools, a low-cost government housing estate and several other buildings.
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