Nigeria's military has killed 10 and arrested 65 in an offensive to wrest territory from Islamists. On Friday, a military air raid on insurgent camps in northeast Nigeria killed at least 21.
Though the killings and arrests have yet to be independently confirmed, a defense spokesman also said that the military had seized stockpiles of weapons including rocket-propelled grenades, guns and ammunition from the militant group Boko Haram on Saturday in the state of Borno. The spokesman, Brigadier-General Chris Olukolade, asked people to inform authorities if they saw anyone attempting to gather large quantities of gasoline.
"Some of the fleeing insurgents from various camps have been noted to be in search of fuel," Olukolade said.
On Tuesday, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan decreed a state of emergency across Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states. This week has seen the military's biggest offensive since Boko Haram revolted four years ago in an attempt to create a separate Islamic state and army. On Saturday, Nigeria's military also declared a 24-hour curfew for areas in the northeast.
The United States has warned Nigeria to respect human rights and not harm civilians.
In a statement, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that officials are "deeply concerned by credible allegations that Nigerian security forces are committing gross human rights violations, which, in turn only escalate violence and fuels extremism."
At least 21 people were reportedly killed in Friday's attack in the Sambisa Forest Reserve, south of Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, a military spokesperson said. But there has been no independent confirmation of those casualties.
In a statement, Olukolade said that the operation had been successful, resulting in "the destruction of much of the insurgents' weapons and logistics, such as vehicles, containers, fuel dumps and power generators."
"The Defense Headquarters is quite satisfied with the progress of the operation and the fighting spirit of participating troops," he said.
mkg/jr (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)