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Nigerian extremists strike and kill again
Terrorism » Boko Haram fighters set thatched-roof mud homes ablaze.


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Security forces cordoned off the mounds of rubble, burned-out vehicles and razed buildings with the debris of panic scattered around — a sandal here, a hat there. Exploded mangoes and pineapples rotted in the sun, their sickly sweet smell mixing with the stench of rotting human flesh.

A charred engine block was all that remained of the grain-filled truck that held the second bomb. Nearby, a police anti-bomb squad investigated a crater left by one of the blasts.

At a glance

Obama: Troops sent to find kidnapped girls

Washington » The United States has deployed 80 military personnel to Chad to help locate the nearly 300 girls kidnapped in Nigeria last month, President Barack Obama said Wednesday.

Obama, in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner and the Senate, notified lawmakers about the latest steps underway to assist in the return of the abducted girls.

Obama said the service members will help with intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft for missions over northern Nigeria. He says the force will stay in Chad until its support is no longer necessary.

Chad shares a portion of its western border with northeastern Nigeria.

The girls and young women, all from a school in northern Nigeria, were kidnapped last month by an Islamic extremist group known as Boko Haram. Dozens escaped, but the group’s leader has threatened on video to sell most of the remaining 276 schoolgirls into slavery if the government does not release detained militants.

The government of Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan came under intense criticism for its initial response to the kidnappings. Since then, the international community has pledged its assistance.

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Despite the latest devastation, Nigerian army spokesman Brig. Gen. Olajide Laleye insisted Wednesday that victory was close, dismissing reports of troops suffering from low morale and lack of basic equipment, including bullet-proof vests.

"I make bold to say that the Nigerian Army is steadily and surely reversing the ugly menace of terrorism and insurgency in the northeast part of this great nation," he said at an army recruiting campaign.

But extremist attacks have increased in frequency and deadliness, with more than 2,000 people killed so far this year, compared to an estimated 3,600 between 2010 and 2013.

On Monday, a car bomb at a bus station killed 24 people in the Christian quarter of the northern Muslim city of Kano, where police later defused another massive car bomb. Two separate bomb blasts in April around another bus station, in the nation’s capital of Abuja, killed more than 120 people and wounded more than 200.

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Faul reported from Lagos, Nigeria. Associated Press writers Sunday Alamba in Jos, Haruna Umar in Maiduguri, Bashir Adigun in Abuja and Jim Kuhnhenn and Lolita C. Baldor in Washington contributed to this report.




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