Members of a Muslim sect blamed for recent violence across northern Nigeria apparently have shot dead another police officer, despite a military crackdown in the region, authorities said Wednesday.
The shooting death of Inspector Kashim Bukar comes as the military promises to deploy attack helicopters to Maiduguri, a city formerly home to the Boko Haram sect that has seen targeted killings in recent weeks.
Three gunmen attacked Bukar as he walked home Tuesday night after watching a soccer match at a television center in his neighborhood, Borno state police commissioner Muhammed Abubakar said. His death makes it a total of 13 police officers allegedly killed in Maiduguri and a neighboring city by Boko Haram members. Eight others, including traditional and religious leaders and politicians, also have been killed.
The killings come while police man checkpoints during the day and military units patrol the streets at night in the northeast Nigeria city, near the border with Chad. Lt. Gen. Onyeabo Azubike Ihejirika, the chief of Army staff, said the country's air force soon will send combat helicopters to the state.
"The soldiers are well-prepared to assist the police in maintaining law and order," Ihejirika said.
Followers of Boko Haram, which means "Western education is sacrilege" in the local Hausa language, went into hiding after starting riots in July 2009 that spurred a subsequent security crackdown. The riots and crackdown left 700 people dead. Recently, the group engineered a massive prison break in nearby Bauchi state, freeing 750 inmates _ among them, sect members.
The sect has asked for an amnesty deal and the right to worship freely. The federal government has sent troops in to quell the growing violence.
If 13 "policemen in uniform could not protect themselves, what will be the fate of the ordinary people?" asked Borno state Gov. Ali Modu Sheriff. "And that is why we brought the army to assist the police."