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Gunmen kill ‘many’ in attack on Nigerian village: witness

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria, June 21, (Agencies): Suspected Islamist militants stormed a village in northeast Nigeria on Saturday, killing several people and torching houses near where more than 200 schoolgirls were kidnapped two months ago, a witness said. Clad in military uniforms, the attackers raided the village of Koronginim in a convoy of sport utility and military vehicles, the witness told Reuters by telephone, asking not to be identified.

The attackers shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest) before opening fire and killing “many”, the witness said. “Two of their leaders were giving orders that they should shoot anyone on sight ... I crawled into the nearby bush and fled from there,” the witness added. Koronginim is in Nigeria’s remote Borno state, the birthplace of a five-year-old insurgency by Boko Haram militants, who are bent on carving out an Islamist caliphate in Nigeria’s largely Muslim north.

The village is about 9 km (6 miles) from Chibok, where Boko Haram abducted the schoolgirls in April, triggering a global campaign for their release. The militants have killed thousands during their campaign, fought back against a military offensive and have stepped up their attacks since the kidnapping. Chibok residents said they could see smoke billowing up over Koronginim. “The attackers still pursued the fleeing villagers into the bush and shot them,” the village’s representative in the Chibok local government, Samuel Ogi, told Reuters.

A source at Chibok hospital told Reuters that at least four seriously wounded people had been brought in. Meanwhile, Nigeria wrapped up its inquiry into the abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls by militants on Friday with little progress to show, reporting almost none had been freed after the initial kidnapping some girls escaped from. Submitting the final report, Brigadier General Ibrahim Sabo said 219 girls remained at large, a total virtually unchanged since Boko Haram militants stormed their secondary school in northeast Borno state on April 14 to kidnap them. A total of 57 girls, almost all of whom escaped shortly after the abduction, have been reunited with their families, he added.

The kidnapping of the teenage girls taking exams in Chibok village sparked global outrage for its sheer barbarity. The government’s failure to rescue the girls, or protect them before their abduction, has become a political liability for President Goodluck Jonathan ahead of elections next year.

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