18 killed in violence in troubled central Nigeria

AP News
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Posted: Sep 05, 2011 12:40 PM
18 killed in violence in troubled central Nigeria

Eighteen people have been killed in central Nigeria, a region beset by religious and ethnic fighting, an official said Monday.

Pam Ayuba, an adviser to the governor of Plateau state, said the 18 were killed Sunday night and that 10 people were wounded, all near the city of Jos. He said the government is working to restore law and order.

Plateau state police commissioner Emmanuel Dipo Ayeni confirmed the attacks but did not confirm the casualty figure.

Nigeria, an oil-rich country of 150 million people, is split between Muslims in the north and the predominantly Christian south. Plateau state is in the "middle belt," where dozens of ethnic groups vie for control of fertile lands and political and economic power.

Also Sunday, two gunmen shot dead an Islamic cleric in Nigeria's restive northeast.

Joint Security Task Force spokesman Lt. Col. Hassan Mohammed said Monday that the attack resembled other killings of religious leaders by the radical Muslim Boko Haram sect. Police were alerted about the attack, but the suspects fled before security officials had arrived, he said.

Isa Mohammed, a student of the slain cleric, said he was visiting Mallam Dala at his house Sunday when two men burst in and shot Dala.

Boko Haram, whose name means "Western education is sacrilege" in the local Hausa language, is responsible for a rash of killings targeting security officers, local leaders and clerics. They claimed responsibility for a bomb that tore through the United Nations' Abuja headquarters on Aug. 26, killing 23 people and wounding 81. It also has claimed responsibility for a bombing at the nation's police headquarters that killed two people in June.

The sect wants to implement a strict version of Shariah law in the nation.

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Associated Press writer Njadvara Musa in Maiduguri, Nigeria contributed to this report.