Fire kills 14 at Nigeria displaced camp

By: AFP      Published: 10:07 PM, 16 Apr, 2020
Fire kills 14 at Nigeria displaced camp
A motorcycle taxi drives past debris of a fire from earlier in the day in Lagos. AFP

Fourteen people were killed Thursday in a fire at a camp housing tens of thousands displaced by jihadist violence in northeast Nigerian, security and rescue sources told AFP.

The blaze broke out mid-morning in a camp holding some 70,000 people in the town of Gamboru, close to the border with Cameroon, the head of a government-backed militia told AFP. "We recovered 14 burnt bodies from the gutted shelters and another 15 who sustained varying degrees of burns from the fire," militia leader Umar Kachalla said.

More than 200 shelters were destroyed, rendering 1,250 people homeless, said a rescue official, who asked not to be named. "The fire killed 14 people, six from the same family, and left 15 with injuries, seven of them critically," said the official.

It was not clear what caused the fire but residents blamed it on arson after a suspect was arrested with a lighter in his pocket, another militia member Shehu Mada said. The decade-long Boko Haram conflict has killed 36,000 people and forced 1.8 million from their homes in northeast Nigeria.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been left living in often squalid and overcrowded camps where they rely on food aid from international charities. Fires are common in the dozens of displaced camps across the conflict area, largely caused by embers from open-air cooking carried by the breeze. A blaze on Tuesday destroyed 700 shelters in a displaced camp in the town of Mafa, 175 kilometres (110 miles) from regional capital Maiduguri, local officials said. 

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