Nigeria extends emergency rule in violence-hit states

ABUJA Wed Nov 20, 2013 12:09pm EST

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ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigeria's house of representatives on Wednesday approved a six month extension of a state of emergency in three northeastern states where the military is battling Islamist militants.

President Goodluck Jonathan ordered extra troops into the northeast as part of the six-month emergency rule declared in May, in an effort to crush Boko Haram, which has killed thousands of people during its four year rebellion.

Jonathan asked the national assembly on November 6 to extend emergency rule in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states. The senate gave its backing on November 8.

Initially, Jonathan's military campaign tempered violence as soldiers wrested back control of towns, cities and stretches of semi-desert in the northeast, but the insurgents have proven resilient.

Boko Haram fighters retreated into semi-arid land near the northern border with Niger and steep forested hills near Cameroon, from where they have mounted deadly counter-attacks, and have intensified killings of civilians.

Boko Haram wants to impose sharia law in a country of nearly 170 million people mixed roughly equally between Christians and Muslims. It has become the biggest security threat in Africa's top oil exporter and second largest economy.

(Reporting by Camillus Eboh; Writing by Joe Brock; Editing by Tim Cocks and Alison Williams)

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