20 Boko Haram Islamists killed

2013-11-17 10:00

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Lagos - Nigeria's army has killed 20 suspected members of Boko Haram in a renewed offensive against the Islamist insurgency, a military spokesperson said on Saturday.

"In the late hours of Friday 15 November 2013, troops ... launched an offensive operation along Gwoza - Bita Damboa Road, where Boko Haram insurgents were flushed out," said Mohammad Dole, an army regional spokesperson.

The town of Bita is a Boko Haram stronghold from where insurgents launch attacks on nearby villages and passing motorists, said Dole.

Twenty Boko Haram members were killed, and scores of vehicles and motorcycles destroyed, he said.

One soldier was killed and three others wounded in the operation, he added.

No independent confirmation of the army's claim was available.

The military action came after the kidnapping overnight Wednesday of a French priest in Cameroon, near the border with Nigeria, from a zone French authorities have since declared dangerous for foreigners.

France's ambassador Christine Robichon visited the north of the country on Saturday to urge French nationals to leave, AFP learned.

"She came with a single message: leave the region because it has become extremely dangerous," one French ex-pat told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The kidnapping has rendered the situation in the region "catastrophic," the source added.

Boko Haram, which has in the past called for the creation of an Islamic state in Nigeria, is believed to be made up of many different factions, some of them hardcore Islamists who resist any concessions to Nigeria's secular government.

Read more on:    nigeria  |  west africa

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