Nigeria Boko Haram attack 'kills 63' in Damaturu

bombed buildings in damaturu Churches, mosques, banks and police buildings were among those hit

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At least 63 people have been killed in bomb and gun attacks in the north-eastern Nigerian town of Damaturu, the Red Cross says.

Witnesses said the bombs hit several targets, including churches and the headquarters of the Yobe state police.

The Islamist militant group Boko Haram told a newspaper it was behind the attack and that it planned to hit further government targets.

A Nigerian journalist told the BBC he personally counted nearly 100 bodies.

"I saw 97 dead bodies in the morgue," Aminu Abubakar, who is in Damaturu, said.

"But an official involved in the evacuation told me that he counted 150 dead bodies although some had been taken away by their loved ones," he said.

'Greatly disturbed'

Analysis

The attack on Damaturu directly contradicts the government's oft-repeated line that it is about to "solve" Nigeria's Boko Haram problem.

Far from disappearing, Nigeria's Islamic militants appear to be evolving and gaining strength.

The attack on the United Nations building in Abuja in August shocked many because it showed Boko Haram no longer regarded their enemy as being just the Nigerian security forces.

These attacks on Damaturu are Boko Haram's bloodiest strike to date. The main target was once again the police but the scope and power of the assault certainly does not suggest a problem that's about to go away.

President Goodluck Jonathan was "greatly disturbed" by the attack, and said his government was working hard to bring those "determined to derail peace and stability in the country to book", according to a spokesman.

A series of attacks on security forces in the nearby city of Maiduguri recently have also been blamed on Boko Haram.

Nigerian Red Cross official Ibrahim Bulama, in Damaturu, told the BBC at least 63 people had been killed there.

He said two other people had been killed in attacks elsewhere. News agencies said the nearby town of Potiskum had also been attacked.

The BBC's Jonah Fisher, in Nigeria's main commercial city, Lagos, says this attack appears to be Boko Haram's bloodiest strike to date.

An unnamed local government official in Damaturu was quoted by AFP news agency as saying that hundreds of wounded people were being treated in hospital.

Map of Nigeria

Witnesses said the attacks began on Friday at about 18:30 (17:30 GMT) and lasted for about 90 minutes.

Gunmen then engaged in running battles with security forces.

'Church torched'

A Roman Catholic parish priest told our correspondent his church had been burnt down and eight other churches also attacked.

He described gangs of young men roaming the streets throwing improvised bombs into the churches.

Boko Haram: Timeline of terror

  • 2002: Founded
  • 2009: Hundreds killed when Maiduguri police stations stormed
  • 2009: Boko Haram leader Mohammed Yusuf captured by army, handed to police, later found dead
  • Sep 2010: Freed hundreds of prisoners from jail
  • Dec 2010: Bombed Jos, killing 80; blamed for New Year's Eve attack on Abuja barracks
  • 2010-2011: Dozens killed in Maiduguri shootings
  • May 2011: Bombed several states after president's inauguration
  • Jun 2011: Police HQ bombed in Abuja
  • Aug 2011: UN HQ bombed in Abuja

The attacks followed a triple suicide bomb attack on a military headquarters in Maiduguri, in neighbouring Borno state.

Military officials said the three attackers had died.

Boko Haram, which means "Western education is forbidden", has launched frequent attacks on the police and government officials.

A known spokesman for the group contacted called Nigeria's Daily Trust newspaper to say it carried out the attacks on Maiduguri and Damaturu.

"We will continue attacking federal government formations until security forces stop their excesses on our members and vulnerable civilians," he said.

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