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Boko Haram Seize Yet Another Town

Boko Haram Seize Yet Another Town

Boko Haram militants yesterday attempted to blow up a bridge on the border with Cameroon after overrunning a town and sending residents and soldiers fleeing, three children were injured, police and residents said.A Cameroon police officer stationed in the far north town of Fotokol told AFP that the terrorists tried to destroy the bridge, which serves as the border crossing with Gamboru Ngala in Nigeria.

Boko Haram stormed Gamboru Ngala early on Monday and by evening, had taken over the police station, a military barracks and vocational training centre, where they had based themselves, the residents said. Flying shrapnel from the Cameroon side of the border detonated explosives, possibly injured the three children, they added.

Meanwhile, soldiers, who fled into neighbouring Cameroon during a clash with a large number of Boko Haram militants on Monday, handed over their weapons to Cameroonian authorities and to Nigeria yesterday, the Defence Headquarters said. They spent the evening at a Fotokol Customs post.

Boko Haram has in recent weeks switched tactics from hit-and-run attacks to attempting to seize and hold territory and have proclaimed one captured town, Gwoza, as part of an “Islamic caliphate”.

Assessing how much territory the militants now hold is impossible, but residents have said the Islamists now control at least one town in Yobe State, Buni Yadi as well as Gwoza and Gamboru Ngala in neighbouring Borno State.

Basuma Muhammed, a resident of Gamboru-Ngala, a town neighbouring Cameroon where the clash took place on Monday, said soldiers joined hundreds of civilians who fled into Cameroon. Cameroon Army spokesman Didier Badjek, in an interview with the BBC, put the number of Nigerian soldiers who fled across the border at 480.

In a statement, the Defence Headquarters said the soldiers were on their way back to Nigeria after following protocol by handing over “their weapons in order to assure the friendly country that they were not on a hostile mission.”

Initially, the soldiers in the town were able to repel an attack by Boko Haram, killing many of the fighters, Muhammed said. “But hours after the attack, a bigger number of the Boko Haram gunmen arrived from the other side of the town and engaged the soldiers who could not stand their superior force and had to join us in running into Cameroon.”

The Defence Headquarters statement said the Nigerian soldiers had performed a “tactical maneuvre” when they found themselves in Cameroon.

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