Continued from page 1

Meanwhile, farmers and government officials are fleeing threats of imminent attacks from Boko Haram in the area of the Gwoza Hills, a mountainous area with caves that shelter the militants despite repeated aerial bombardments by the military.

A local government official said there had been a series of attacks in recent weeks and threats of more. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he feared for his life, said Gwoza town was deserted when he visited it briefly under heavy security escort on Thursday.

He said militants had chased medical officers from the government hospital in Gwoza, which had been treating some victims of attacks, and had burned down three public schools in the area.

The official said the Gwoza local government has set up offices in Maiduguri, the state capital to the north.

More than 30,000 people have fled the terrorist attacks to neighboring Cameroon and Chad, and the uprising, combined with the military emergency, has forced farmers from their fields and vendors from their markets.

The attacks came as Nigeria prepares to celebrate 52 years of independence from Britain on Tuesday and amid increasing political jockeying as the country gears up for presidential elections next year.

• Michelle Faul reported from Lagos, Nigeria. Associated Press writer Haruna Umar in Maiduguri, Nigeria, contributed to this report.