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At least 187 killed in Nigeria violence

LAGOS, Nigeria — Fighting between soldiers and Islamic extremists in northeast Nigeria killed at least 187 people, the worst single incident of violence in the region since an insurgency there began three years ago, an aid agency said Monday.

Nigeria’s military blocked access for relief officials to enter the town of Baga, which is along the shores of Lake Chad in the nation’s far northeast, said Nwakpa O. Nwakpa, a Red Cross spokesman.

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Another 77 people are receiving medical care there in the ruins of a town where some 300 homes burned down, he said. Local residents blamed angry soldiers for destroying neighborhoods where they knew civilians were hiding.

‘‘Our volunteers are on standby,’’ Nwakpa said. ‘‘We are yet to be provided clearance.’’

The fighting in Baga began Friday and lasted for hours, sending people fleeing into the arid scrublands surrounding the community. By the time Borno state officials could reach the city Sunday, a local government official said at least 185 people were killed, something not disputed by a brigadier general who attended the visit.

Officials could not offer a breakdown of civilian casualties versus those of soldiers and extremist fighters. Many of the bodies had been burned beyond recognition in fires.

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