A deadly battle between Nigerian troops and Islamic extremists has left nearly 185 dead and a town devastated by fire.
The fight began Friday in northern Nigeria when Islamic insurgents called “Boko Haram” killed a Nigerian army officer, Russia Today reported.
The government troops trapped the insurgents by blocking a mosque where they were believed to be taking refuge. They were quickly confronted with “more militants armed with automatic weapons, heavy machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades,” according to the article.
The confrontation escalated to the point that the Muslim extremists used townspeople as “human shields.”
According to the article:
Brig. Gen. Austin Edokpaye told government officials that the militants were using town’s civilians as human shields during the fighting. He said the fires in the town started because of explosions, including those of caused by rocket-propelled grenades which could have a incendiary effect.
But locals also told AP journalist that soldiers were deliberately setting buildings on fire to drive militants out of private houses they used as sanctuary.
As local residents returned to their homes Sunday, they found the streets full of bodies and animals “burnt beyond recognition,” and “about 2,000 private houses and several markets” burnt down.
Russia Today further explained:
Boko Haram declares plans to found an Islamic state with strict Sharia law cut out of Nigerian territory. Nigeria, with a population of over 160 million, is a multicultural and multi-confessional country, though its northern border with Chad is predominantly Muslim.
Massacres, kidnappings and raids have characterized Nigeria’s extremist insurgency in northern regions of the country since the riot started by Boko Haram in 2009. The riot was suppressed with a price of some 700 human casualties.