Sunday, December 30, 2012

Five killed as Nigerian troops battle Islamists

KADUNA, Sunday

Nigerian soldiers killed four suspected extremists and lost one policeman in the latest crackdown on the Islamist Boko Haram group in the country’s restive north-east, the military said today.

Lieutenant Lazarus Eli, spokesman for the Joint Task Force (JTF) in Damaturu, the capital of Yobe State, said in a statement that the operation was carried out on Saturday in an area of the city of Potiskum that is a hotbed of the Boko Haram extremists.

“Four of the suspected terrorists were killed in the encounter. One policeman attached to the JTF lost his life and a soldier sustained injuries,” he said.

“Fifty-nine people were arrested during the operation for interrogation,” he also said, and a cache of arms, ammunition and explosive devices were recovered.

Potiskum, the commercial hub of Yobe state, has been hard hit by near daily attacks by Boko Haram Islamists in recent months.

The attacks have prompted a heavy army deployment.

Boko Haram has repeatedly targeted the security services as part of its insurgency across northern and central Nigeria since 2010.

Violence by the Islamist group and those blamed on security forces are believed to have killed more than 3,000 in Nigeria since 2009.

The group is seeking to impose Islamic law in the country.

Six people died in an attack on a church on Christmas Day, while seven were killed on Wednesday in Maiduguri, the city where Boko Haram launched its campaign in 2009.

Nigeria is divided between a mainly Muslim north and a Christian south. (AFP and BBC)

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