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Niger extends state of emergency in Diffa region hit by Boko Haram

by Reuters
Saturday, 30 July 2016 10:55 GMT

A Niger soldier guards with his weapon pointed towards the border with neighbouring Nigeria, near the town of Diffa, Niger, June 21, 2016. Picture taken June 21, 2016. REUTERS/Luc Gnago

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Attacks by Boko Haram since late May have emptied the towns of Bosso and Yebi near the Nigeria border

NIAMEY, July 30 (Reuters) - Niger has extended a state of emergency in the southeastern region of Diffa for three months after a series of attacks by Boko Haram, the government said late on Friday.

Attacks by Boko Haram since late May have emptied the towns of Bosso and Yebi near the Nigeria border in the Lake Chad region. Some 69,000 have fled, according to a report on Friday by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

"Despite the various extensions of the state of emergency in the region of Diffa and bloody setbacks inflicted on it, the Boko Haram sect still continues to have a destructive capacity as evidenced by the recent attacks in Bosso," the government said in a statement.

Boko Haram took the town of Bosso near the Nigerian border in early June, in an attack that killed 30 soldiers from Niger and two. It was the deadliest assault in Niger by Boko Haram since April 2015. Since then, Chad has sent troops to help Niger wage a counterattack.

The state of emergency, which the government hopes will allow it to beef up its presence in the region with troops and added security measures, will now run to Oct. 25. It is the latest in a series of such declarations in the Diffa region since February last year.

Boko Haram has been trying to establish an Islamic state adhering to strict Sharia law in northeastern Nigeria since 2009. The violence has since spread into neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon. About 2.1 million people have been displaced and thousands have been killed during the insurgency.

(Reporting By Boureima Balima, writing by Edward McAllister, editing by Larry King)

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