Suspected Nigerian Islamist Militants Attack Northeast Towns

Suspected Boko Haram Islamists in Nigeria attacked two towns today in the country’s northeastern state of Gombe, police and residents said.

Gunmen riding in pickup vans opened fire on entering Bajoga town, causing people to flee, Gombe state Police Commissioner Kudu Nma said by phone from Gombe town. In neighboring Ashaka, also the location of a cement factory operated by Lafarge Africa Plc, explosions and gunfire at dawn sent people running for safety, said Ahmed Ciroma, a resident.

“We are just coming out of hiding,” Ciroma said by phone from Ashaka. Troops and police were engaging the attackers to repel them, according to Nma. The Ashaka cement plant is “fine,” Viola Graham-Douglas, a spokeswoman for Lagos-based Lafarge Africa, said by phone, without giving further details.

The government of Africa’s biggest economy is struggling to contain a rebellion by Boko Haram, whose name roughly translates as “Western education is a sin.” The militants have killed more than 13,000 people in the past five years, according to President Goodluck Jonathan.

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