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Nigerian army says NGO aided terrorists, forces it to close office

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ABUJA (Reuters) – The army in northeastern Nigeria forced non-profit Action Against Hunger to close its office in the region, accusing it on Thursday of aiding terrorist groups such as Boko Haram and Islamic State.

The international aid agency said it was ordered by soldiers to close its main office in Maiduguri, Borno state, on Wednesday.

Colonel Ado Isa, the deputy director of army public relations, said Action Against Hunger was warned several times that it was “aiding and abetting terrorists” by supplying food and drugs.

“Consequently, the AAH has been declared persona (non) grata,” Isa said.

The humanitarian group, which focuses on providing water, food and healthcare, particularly in areas plagued by conflict and famine, called on “competent authorities” to let it continue its work.

“This decision, without notice and without any explanation, jeopardizes the assistance Action Against Hunger provides to the most vulnerable people in Borno State and halts, with immediate effect, the assistance Action Against Hunger provides to millions of people in Maiduguri, Monguno, and Damasak,” the group said in a statement.

In July, an Action Against Hunger staff member and five others travelling with her were kidnapped by Islamic State’s West Africa branch.

In total, around 30,000 people have been killed, and more than two million forced to flee their homes, in the decade-long insurgency led by Islamist militant group Boko Haram. Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA) split from Boko Haram in 2016.

The United Nations has said that 7.1 million people still need humanitarian assistance in the region.

(Reporting By Camillus Eboh, writing by Libby George; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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