Nigerian Islamist sect attacks kill 12: police

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 25, 2011 4:40 PM
Nigerian Islamist sect attacks kill 12: police

By Ibrahim Mshelizza

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (Reuters) - A radical Islamist sect bombed a police station and raided banks in a northeastern Nigerian town on Thursday, leaving 12 people dead including policemen and a soldier.

Boko Haram, whose name translates from the local northern Hausa language as "Western education is sinful," has been behind almost daily bombings and shootings, mostly targeting police in the northeast of Africa's most populous nation.

"The Boko Haram members have killed 12 people today," police commissioner of Adamawa state, A.T. Shinafa, told Reuters.

"They bombed Gombi police station, killing four policemen and one soldier before driving off to the First Bank and Union Bank where they killed seven staffers of the two banks and carted away an unspecified amount of money."

Adamawa lies on the border with Cameroon and is just south of Borno state, where the sect was formed in 2002 and the scene of most of its attacks in recent months.

A military Joint Task Force (JTF) in the last month has arrested several suspected members of Boko Haram in Borno. Security sources said the attacks in Adamawa may be a sign the group has been pushed further south.

The group's ambitions are growing. In June, it carried out a car bombing in the car park of the police headquarters in the capital Abuja, narrowly missing the chief of police.

A car filled with explosives was rammed into the police headquarters in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, last week but failed to detonate, and days later three policemen were killed when gunmen entered one of their homes.

Bomb blasts and shootings in the north have replaced militant attacks on oil facilities hundreds of miles away in the southern Niger Delta as the main security threat in Nigeria.

Boko Haram's views, which include wanting sharia law more widely applied across Nigeria, are not backed by most of the country's Muslim population, the largest in sub-Saharan Africa.

President Goodluck Jonathan has appointed a committee to look into the unrest in the northeast. The team is expected to deliver its report next week, although it is already delayed.

"There seems to be some progress being made on the issue of Boko Haram," spokesman for the presidency, Reuben Abati, told reporters earlier on Thursday in Abuja.

"The Boko Haram committee has submitted its interim report to the government and has requested for some more time to come up with a full report."

(Additional reporting by Felix Onuah; Writing by Joe Brock; Editing by Sophie Hares)