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  • 30 dead as troops battle Boko Haram in market

  • Maiduguri, the beleaguered capital of Borno State, was the scene yesterday of yet another battle between soldiers and Boko Haram men. Residents spoke of deafening explosions, flying bullets and thick, dark smoke.

    At the end of the gun duel, the Joint Task Force said seven members of the deadly sect were killed. But the AFP reported that Boko Haram set off bombs and opened fire on a market, killing 30 people. The agency was quoting a witness and medical source. “It’s true the number of dead could not be less than 30,” a Maiduguri hospital nurse told AFP. The explosions occurred in the Banga Fish Market in the city, the spiritual home of the sect.

    A member of the sect was captured at the market five days ago. It was attacked by some members of the group who hurled explosives into it. The explosions attracted the attention of JTF soldiers stationed near the market. They exchanged gunshots with the sect’s members. A source said: “We saw about three pick-up vans loaded with people in front of Ibrahim Taiwo Police Station, opposite the Baga Market this afternoon, shortly after the gun battle with members of the sect, but we could not tell whether they were corpses or the wounded.” “The sect members were believed to have attacked traders in the market, following last Thursday’s arrest of one of their members who was overpowered, beaten and handed over to men of the JTF. Another source said there was no way over 15 persons would not have been killed in the attack, claiming that the three vans were loaded with bodies. Confirming the gun battle to reporters, JTF spokesman Lt.-Col. Hassan Mohammed said men of the Joint Task Force on Operation Restore Order killed eight members of Boko Haram during a gun battle at about 1:00 pm at the Baga Market.

    He said that the JTF was informed of an attack on the market where three traders were shot by members of the Boko Haram. “Our men engaged members of the Boko Haram sect in gun battle and we successfully killed eight of the sect members and recovered weapons as well as detonated some IEDs and recovered some others.” According to him, the three traders shot at the Market did not die but were taken to the hospital where they are receiving medical attention.