Fighting between sect, military in north Nigeria

AP News
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Posted: Mar 21, 2012 11:50 AM
Fighting between sect, military in north Nigeria

Suspected members of a radical Islamist sect attacked a town in north Nigeria and fought soldiers while trying to make their escape, leaving at least nine of them dead, the military said Wednesday.

The attack by the sect known as Boko Haram happened overnight in Tundun Wada in Kano state, a city about 60 miles (100 kilometers) from the capital city of Kano. There, gunmen attacked a police headquarters, the home of a senior police officer and set fire to a nearby bank, Brig. Gen. Iliyasu Abba told journalists during a briefing Wednesday.

The gunmen stole police uniforms, Kalashnikov rifles, bulletproof vests and ammunition before leaving for a road back to Kano, Abba said. There, military forces who received a distress call from the town attacked them, killing nine suspected sect members, he said.

Soldiers arrested two suspected sect members, who the military paraded before journalists Wednesday.

Tuesday night, officials said gunmen on motorcycles opened fire on a local gathering spot in Kano, killing two people and wounding others.

Boko Haram, whose name means "Western education is sacrilege" in the Hausa language of Nigeria's Muslim north, is blamed for more than 360 killings this year alone, according to an AP 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 weak central government.

Meanwhile, authorities in the United Arab Emirates say a citizen kidnapped while on a business trip in Nigeria has been released. The state news agency WAM said Mohammed Khamis Majed had been on a two-day trip when he was kidnapped in January. The news agency said Majed was freed without paying a demanded $5 million ransom and that his kidnappers had been arrested, though it offered no other details.

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Associated Press writer Adam Schreck in Dubai contributed to this report.