Residents flee homes after Islamist attack in Nigeria

2012-01-07 13:10

Kano, Nigeria – Hundreds of residents fled their homes in a town in northeastern Nigeria in the wake of all-night gun battles between Islamists and security forces.

Police have not yet determined the death toll from the violence in Potiskum, they said.

“Our men engaged Boko Haram gunmen in shootouts for most of (last) night which led to some deaths and injuries,” Yobe state police commissioner Lawan Tanko told AFP.

“It is too early to give figures because we are still investigating the incident and taking stock of the situation,” Tanko said.

Dozens of armed Islamists stormed Potiskum yesterday and launched gun and bomb attacks on the police headquarters.

The scale of damage was not immediately clear as soldiers cordoned off the area.

The attackers fired shots and threw a bomb into a nearby police barracks but no one was hurt, said residents in the barracks.
Two banks in the town were also robbed and burnt by the Islamists, residents said.

Residents of neighbourhoods around the police headquarters have vacated their homes in fear of military raids in the area in the aftermath of the attack, residents said.

The town is part of regions placed under emergency rule by President Goodluck Jonathan a week ago.

Those who fled their homes moved in with relatives and friends in areas unaffected by the attacks, residents said.

“Virtually all the residents of the Dogo Tebo and Dogo Nini areas have fled their homes for fear of attack by soldiers who came to the town this morning from Damaturu,” said Idris Bakanike, a resident of the Dogo Tebo area overlooking the police headquarters.

Dozens of soldiers were deployed today and took up positions around the police headquarters, firing sporadic shots in the area.

“We are afraid the soldiers will raid and burn our homes like they do in Maiduguri each time Boko Haram attack,” Amiru Umar, a resident of Dogo Nini said.

Soldiers in the northeastern city of Maiduguri have been accused of burning homes and shooting residents after attacks by the Islamists, accusing residents of complicity with them.

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