Nigerians flee armed attacks


Upwards of 65 000 people in north-eastern Nigeria fled their homes after an assault by armed groups on a border town, while apparently targeted attacks forced a temporary halt to aid operations, UN agencies said.

Local officials and a resident said at least eight people were killed in an attack on Damasak by suspected Islamists and hundredsfled to Niger, a few kilometres away.

“Following the latest attack, the third in seven days, up to 80% of the town’s population — including locals and internally displaced people — fled,” Babar Baloch of the UN refugee agency UNHCR, told a Geneva briefing.

Jens Laerke, spokesman for the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) told the briefing aid operations were temporarily suspended.

“The situation on the ground is critical and if this continues it will be impossible, for long periods of time, to deliver aid,” he said.

Laerke added humanitarian workers appeared to be targets, amid reports of house-to-house searches for aid workers and the burning of their offices. UNHCR relocated its staff from Damasak due to the risks, Baloch said.