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Chad PM appeals for aid for Nigerian refugees

Pahimi said that about 2,000 Nigerians and 500 Chadians crossed the border into Chad in recent days.

Picture: United Nations.

ABUJA - The Prime Minister of Chad, Kalzeubet Pahimi, is appealing for international aid for thousands of Nigerian refugees who have fled attacks by the militants across the border into the Lake Chad region.

This follows the attacks on Baga in Borno State a border town, this week. In the last week, around 2,000 Nigerians and 500 Chadians have fled Boko Haram attacks in Chad's Lake region, Chadian Prime Minister Kalzeubet Pahimi said on Wednesday.

Pahimi said that about 2,000 Nigerians and 500 Chadians crossed the border into Chad in recent days, joining around 1,000 Nigerians who arrived some months ago.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) added that the Chadian Red Cross and other groups conducted an evaluation mission during the week to the area where the refugees are located and distributed supplies including soap, tarpaulins, biscuits and jerry cans.

The UNHCR puts the total figure of Nigerian refugees in Chad at more than 5,000.

BOKO HARAM CLASHES

Boko Haram militants have killed dozens of people and burned down homes in the northeast Nigerian town of Baga in the past two days, in a second killing spree since seizing control there at the weekend, witnesses said on Thursday.

The insurgency killed more than 10,000 people last year, according to a count by the Council on Foreign Relations in November. It is seen as the gravest threat to Nigeria, Africa's biggest economy, and a headache for President Goodluck Jonathan ahead of an election on 14 February.

The district head of Baga, Abba Hassan, said on Thursday that at least 100 people were killed when the group first took over the town on the edge of Lake Chad.

Abubakar Gulama, who escaped without his family to Monguno, 40km away, said he crossed "many dead bodies on the ground" and that "the whole town was on fire".

A source at a rights group in Maiduguri said some 10 women who snuck out of Baga a few days after the first attack had reported that their daughters aged 10-20 had been kidnapped.

The militants have been waging an insurgency to establish an Islamic state for more than five years.

The number and scale of attacks rose sharply in 2014 after the government imposed emergency rule on the three worst-hit states in 2013, and the administration of President Jonathan has met growing criticism for failing to quash it.

Jonathan defended his record on tackling the militant group at the launch of his election campaign and blamed opposition candidate Muhammadu Buhari for Nigeria's ill-equipped army.

Boko Haram has taken over or rendered ungovernable swathes of the northeast, especially Borno state where Baga is located. It has also launched attacks in Chad and Cameroon, while Chad has appealed for international aid to support the refugees coming across its border.