Security forces raided a suspected bomb factory in Nigeria run by a radical Islamist sect as suspected gunmen from the group launched new attacks against police stations in the nation's northeast, officials said Sunday.
The latest violence blamed on the sect known as Boko Haram killed two security officials in Kogi state and a local politician in Maiduguri, the group's spiritual home in Nigeria's northeast.
Authorities raided the alleged bomb factory Saturday in Okene, a town in Kogi state, which sits just south of Nigeria's capital, Abuja. During the attack, gunfire killed a soldier and a member of the State Security Service, Nigeria's secret police, Maj. Gen. Alphonsus Chukwu told journalists.
The raid saw military helicopters and forces swarm Okene and the surrounding hills, local media reported.
Boko Haram, whose name means "Western education is sacrilege" in the Hausa language of Nigeria's north, has carried out attacks in Kogi state before, the furthest south its struck in its campaign of terror. On Feb. 15, armed sect members attacked a federal prison in the state, freeing 119 inmates, including some of the group's members.
Boko Haram is waging an increasingly bloody fight against Nigeria's weak central government. Violence blamed on the sect has killed more than 370 people this year alone, according to an Associated Press count. The sect, employing suicide bombers and assault-rifle shootouts, has attacked both Christians and Muslims, as well as the United Nations' headquarters in Nigeria.
Authorities also blame the sect for the kidnapping of a British and Italian hostage who were killed in a failed rescue operation March 8, though a sect spokesman has denied the group's involvement.
The sect has rejected efforts to begin indirect peace talks with Nigeria's government. The group's demands include the introduction of strict Sharia law across the country, even in Christian areas, and the release of all their imprisoned followers.
Meanwhile Sunday, Borno state police spokesman Samuel Tizhe said local politician Wanangu Kachuwa was shot to death after returning home from a church service. Tizhe blamed the attack on Boko Haram and said no arrests have been made.
In an earlier attack Saturday night in neighboring Yobe state, authorities said sect members burned down two police stations in separate cities. Local police spokesman Toyin Gbadegesin said two officers were injured in those attacks and that the force had ordered the closure of all police outpost in the state.
Haruna Umar reported from Maiduguri, Nigeria.
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