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'Ceasefire' doubts after attacks reported in Nigeria

AFP , Sunday 19 Oct 2014
A student who escaped when Boko Haram rebels stormed a school and abducted schoolgirls, identifies her schoolmates from a video released by the Islamist rebel group at the Government House in Maiduguri, Borno State in this May 15, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)
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Nigerian military and intelligence officials raised doubts on Sunday about the implementation of a ceasefire with Boko Haram, as reports of fresh attacks filtered out of the country's northeast.

The chief of defence staff and a senior presidential aide announced on Friday that agreement had been reached to end hostilities and the possible release of more than 200 kidnapped schoolgirls.

Air Marshal Alex Badeh said he had instructed all armed forces' chiefs to ensure the "immediate compliance" with the development.

But a senior army officer in the violence-wracked northeast, who asked to remain anonymous, said: "Honestly, we are yet to receive any operational order on the ceasefire.

"As such, we are battle-ready and would confront the terrorists if we see them."

A senior intelligence official in the region also indicated to AFP that he had not received word about the purported ceasefire.

Locals said on Saturday that dozens of suspected Boko Haram gunmen had stormed the town of Abadam in Borno state on Thursday.

A number of residents said at least 30 people were killed on Thursday and Friday while hundreds of others were forced to flee across the border into neighbouring Niger.

"We all heard of the ceasefire over the radio but it seems the insurgents are not perturbed at all," another resident, Mallam Babagana, said on Sunday.

"To me, they (the militants) don't even care about it because they increased their attacks from Friday, the very day the ceasefire was announced. By Saturday, they hoisted their flags."

Elsewhere, Enoch Mark, whose daughter and niece are among the 219 schoolgirls who have been held by Boko Haram since mid-April, said there had been another attack in neighbouring Adamawa state.

He said the attack, in the village of Wagga on Saturday, saw some 40 women abducted -- an established Boko Haram tactic in its bloody five-year insurgency.

On Friday, eight people were also killed on a road in the Borno state village of Shaffa near where a prominent Muslim leader, the Emir of Gwoza, was ambushed and killed by Boko Haram fighters in May.

Babagana said local hunters on their way to recover the bodies of the eight fought battles with militants on Saturday in Azul, also in the Hawul local government area.

"The unrelenting terrorists waylaid our members at around 9:00 am (0800 GMT) and serious fighting ensued. We lost four of our members and we killed three terrorists," he said.

Independent corroboration of attacks in the remote northeast are almost impossible, with communications devastated by the violence and access fraught with danger.

The police and the military have largely stopped communicating on attacks.

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