Gunmen kill 12 in Nigerian Islamist stronghold

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 23, 2013 1:40 PM

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (Reuters) - Gunmen killed 12 people in a raid on a northeastern Nigerian village on Saturday, the police said, in a region where troops are battling an Islamist militant insurgency.

The attack was in a part of Borno state regularly targeted by Boko Haram, an Islamist sect that has killed thousands in the last four years.

"About 30 fully armed men in three Hilux vehicles and motorcycles stormed the Sandiya village and started chanting Allahu Akbar (God is greatest), before opening fire on the helpless," local resident Modu Judum told Reuters.

State Commissioner of Police Tanko Lawal confirmed 12 people were killed in the attack, houses were set ablaze and vehicles were stolen. He did not say who the attackers were.

President Goodluck Jonathan ordered a state of emergency in the northeast in May and began an intensified military campaign to crush Boko Haram but the group has been resilient, counter-attacking from bases set up in remote rural areas.

The sect wants to impose sharia or Islamic law on a country of nearly 170 million split roughly equally between Christians and Muslims.

It has become the biggest security threat in Africa's top oil exporter and second largest economy and Western powers fear that it could export militancy as it expands its ties with al Qaeda-linked Islamists.

(Reporting by Ibrahim Mshelizza; Writing by Joe Brock; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)