LAGOS, Nigeria — A battle between Nigerian soldiers and suspected Islamist militants a week ago left 228 people dead in the northeast town of Baga, according to an official from the region.
“I went to three different graveyards and the total number of those buried stood at 228, while over 4,000 houses were burnt,” Maina Ma’aji Lawan, a senator representing the area at the Nigerian National Assembly, told reporters yesterday. The president’s office said the figures may be “grossly exaggerated.”
Baga residents buried at least 185 bodies, Lawan Kole, a local government official in the Kukawa area council, said April 22. The fight began April 19 after a military patrol was attacked near a mosque where Boko Haram fighters have hidden weapons in the past, Austin Edokpaye, a spokesman for the joint military task force in charge of security in the region, said April 21.
The government of Africa’s top oil producer has battled Boko Haram since 2009 as the sect carried out gun and bomb attacks in the mainly Muslim north and the capital Abuja that have killed hundreds of people. President Goodluck Jonathan’s office said April 23 that the government will investigate whether the military complied with rules of engagement.
Jonathan has said he has established a committee that will draft a plan to grant amnesty to Boko Haram members and disarm the group in a 60-day period. The announcement came less than a week after Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, said the group won’t accept a government amnesty.
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