- Title: NIGERIA: Civilians flee army raids in Niger Delta
- Date: 5th December 2010
- Summary: DISPLACED PEOPLE INSIDE TRUCK
- Embargoed: 20th December 2010 12:00
- Location: Nigeria, Nigeria
- Country: Nigeria
- Topics: Defence / Military
- Reuters ID: LVA7Q7EIGQHKO6BIZU4QKA33G5R
- Story Text: Residents say fighting between Nigerian military and armed gangs in the Niger Delta has killed several civilians and displaced dozens more.
Fighting between the Nigerian military and armed gangs in the creeks of the oil-producing Niger Delta has killed several civilians and displaced dozens more, residents said on Friday.
A military taskforce (JTF) comprising the army, navy and air force began raiding three camps believed to belong to a notorious gang leader in Delta state on Thursday, close to the Ayakoromo and Okrika communities.
JTF Commander General Charles Omorege led a group of Red Cross officials to visit a makeshift camp which was set up in the wake of the raid to shelter displaced women and children. Local community leaders later inspected the scene of the raid.
Witnesses said fighters loyal to gang leader John Togo hid in buildings in Ayakoromo to escape the raids before engaging in a gun battle with the security forces. Some civilians were wounded as they fled in dug-out canoes and several were killed.
The military denied reports that more than 100 people died.
The military said weeks ago it would launch strikes on suspected militant gangs in the Niger Delta, where they have in recent years severely disrupted Africa's biggest oil and gas industry, and urged civilians living near their camps to leave.
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