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Nigerian forces say kill 9 Islamists in Kano shootout

By on March 22, 2012

Nigerian security forces killed nine Islamist Boko Haram militants and captured two in a shootout in northern Kano state and seized a cache of stolen police weapons, an army general said on Wednesday.

Brigadier General Ilyasu Abba showed the two captured suspects and bodies of the dead to local journalists and put the weapons on display at the military barracks in Kano, Nigeria’s second biggest city.

They included several pistols and AK-47 assault rifles, ammunition and police body armour, seized after Tuesday’s shootout.

Boko Haram has killed hundreds of people in bomb and gun attacks since launching an uprising in 2009, mainly in the majority-Muslim north of the country. The security crisis has at times dominated Goodluck Jonathan’s presidency.

The group has said it wants to impose sharia, Islamic law, throughout the oil-rich country, which is split equally between Christians and Muslims.

The latest violence began when militants blew up a local branch of Unity Bank in the remote town of Tudunwada with a homemade bomb, then ransacked the armoury of the local police station, Abba said.

The security forces set up roadblocks and exchanged fire with the militants, killing nine and capturing two, he said.

“We … blocked both ends of the roads to Tudunwada and waited for the hoodlums, who came in three vehicles. We laid an ambush for them, seized the vehicle,” Abba said, standing next to the captives, blindfolded with their hands tied.

One soldier was wounded in the fight, he said.

Jonathan and his security forces have been criticised for failing to quell the rising violence in the north.

Suspected Boko Haram militants on motorcycles opened fire on a police checkpoint in Sharada, Kano state, on Tuesday, killing a policeman and two civilians.

Nigerian authorities blamed a faction of the sect for the killing of a British and an Italian hostage two weeks ago in the northwest, but Abu Qaqa, the sect’s spokesman in Maiduguri, its heartland, has denied any Boko Haram link to those deaths.

Efforts in the past week to arrange peace talks between the government and Boko Haram failed after the government rejected a Boko Haram condition – that all its members in detention be released.

A Muslim cleric involved in the mediation pulled out after news of the talks was leaked to the press.

A man saying he spoke for Boko Haram said on Tuesday the group had “closed all possible doors of negotiation” with the government.

Recent arrests and deaths of senior figures have weakened the group, analysts say, possibly leaving it more amenable to negotiations, though there are doubts about what talks could achieve with a group so fragmented and ridden with factions.

Its last large-scale, coordinated attack, in Kano in January, killed 186 people.


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