Nigeria Militant Attack Forces 15,000 People to Flee Homes

More than 15,000 people have fled their homes in northeastern Nigeria since an attack last week by suspected Islamist militants that left at least 21 people dead, according to an emergency official.

Residents are fleeing from Damboa and areas surrounding the town in fear for their lives, a spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency in Borno state, Abdulkadir Ibrahim, told reporters yesterday in the region’s capital, Maiduguri.

Nigerian security forces are struggling to contain a five-year insurgency by Boko Haram, which means “western education is a sin” in the local Hausa language. The militant group has carried out frequent deadly bomb attacks in the northeast of the country and, more recently, in the capital, Abuja.

The banner of the group, which is fighting to impose Islamic law on Africa’s top oil producer, was hoisted in Damboa after the attack on July 18. The trading town, located about 85 kilometers (53 miles) outside Maiduguri, is under Boko Haram’s control, the British Broadcasting Corp. reported yesterday, citing a local vigilante leader it didn’t identify.

Troops are preparing to “reverse current insecurity” in the Damboa area, Defense Ministry spokesman Major-General Chris Olukolade said yesterday in an e-mailed statement.

“The Nigerian military will not concede any portion of this country to any such group,” he said.

Boko Haram drew global outrage with its April 14 abduction of 276 schoolgirls from their dormitories in the northeastern town of Chibok, most of whom are still missing.

Presidential Meeting

President Goodluck Jonathan today met with parents of the missing schoolgirls and some of the students who escaped, assuring them of the government’s determination to rescue the remaining abducted girls, Education Minister Ibrahim Shekarau told reporters in Abuja. A meeting last week was called off when parents refused to see him.

The Islamist group, which is most active in Borno and two other northeastern states, has killed at least 2,053 civilians in the first six months of this year in 95 attacks, according to Human Rights Watch.

The National Emergency Management Agency has records of at least 15,204 people being displaced in Damboa and the villages of Kimba, Madaragrau, Mandafuma, Chikwar Kir, Bomburatai and Sabon Kwatta, said Ibrahim.

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