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Death toll now 52 in market attack: police

28 January 2014, 20:08

Kawuri - The number of people killed in a deadly market attack blamed on Boko Haram militants in northeast Nigeria has risen to 52, police told AFP on Tuesday.

"From the verified figures I have in my records, 52 people have been confirmed killed in the attack," Borno state police commissioner Lawan Tanko told AFP.

Tanko said on Monday that 45 people had lost their lives in the attack in Kawuri, some 37 kilometres (23 miles) from the state capital Maiduguri, on Sunday.

A separate attack in neighbouring Adamawa state, also blamed on Boko Haram fighters, killed at least 26.

The head of the local civilian vigilante group in Kawuri, Lawal Mustapha, earlier told the Borno state governor Kashim Shettima that 85 people had been killed.

"I participated in the burial of 83 people on Monday," he said, adding that two more bodies were found burnt and later interred.

There was no independent confirmation of the higher death toll.

Tanko added that the 52 deaths were "documented names". A further 26 were in hospital and the toll was likely to rise, he said.

"Some of the injured have third-degree burns and they're likely to die," the police commissioner said.

Locals said 50 people were injured and being treated for their wounds.

Locals told the governor, who toured the village, that the attackers arrived in 22 vehicles, including two armoured personnel carriers and six pick-up trucks in military colours.

They opened fire with assault rifles and set fire to seven mosques in an attack that lasted from around 5:00 pm (1600 GMT) to well past midnight.

Vehicles and motorcycles were burnt out and houses razed.

Local councillor Dala Lawal said the imam of one mosque was killed while two others were killed as they prayed.

"We saw hell. The attackers were merciless," he told reporters.

Both attacks came just a week after Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan sacked his military top brass in a move interpreted as a sign of his dissatisfaction with the counter-insurgency effort.

Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states were placed under emergency rule in May last year to try to end the insurgency, which has claimed thousands of lives since 2009.

Attacks have continued, most of them in rural areas of Borno. Nigeria's new chief of defence staff, Air Marshall Alex Badeh, has said he wanted an end to the fighting by April.

Kawuri was attacked in October last year when suspected Boko Haram fighters clashed with the civilian vigilante group, leaving 10 dead and dozens of shops and homes razed.




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