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Nigerian military plans major operation after Jos attacks

Nigerian military will launch sweeping operations in villages around the city of Jos, where suspected insurgents responsible for last weekend's deadly ethnic attacks are thought to be hiding.

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Nigeria’s military appears ready to begin a major operation to raid suspected hideouts across the central Nigerian Plateau State, where insurgents responsible for last week’s violence are thought to be based.

More than 200 people were killed in sectarian attacks between mainly Muslim Fulani herdsmen and Christian Birom villagers near the city of Jos over the weekend of July 9. Police blamed the violence on tribal differences over land, but an Islamist insurgent group, Boko Haram, claimed responsibility for the attacks, including the wholesale massacre of 63 Christian parishioners taking refuge in a preacher’s house.

In a statement by the director of defense information, Col. Mohammed Yusuf, said that Nigerian Armed Forces were planning a full-scale military operation, called “operation sweep and search,” to raid the villages of Mahanga, Kakuruk, Kuzen, Maseh, and Shong 2. Those are places that serve as hideouts for criminals, Col. Yusuf said, adding that civilians living in those areas should leave, since there might be “collateral damage” to innocent villagers.

“This temporary relocation is for a while and the villagers will relocate when the operation is completed,” Yusuf’s statement said.
  
 To avoid “collateral damage,” he said, inhabitants of villages “where these criminal elements use as hideouts should vacate to a safer place where an arrangement is being made for them by the State government.” Groups representing Fulani herdsmen, however, urged villagers to stay put and pray, a sign that clashes with the military may be imminent.

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