[ 2012-01-07 ]
Nigerian troops clash with Islamists
KANO, Nigeria (AFP) - Hundreds of people fled
their homes on Saturday in northeast Nigeria after
deadly all-night gun battles between Islamists and
security forces, police and residents said.
The latest clashes with the Islamist sect Boko
Haram came amid growing fears of wider religious
violence in Africa's most populous nation, roughly
divided between a mainly Muslim north and
predominantly Christian south.
The previous night, 10 people were gunned down in
a church, the latest such attack in an escalating
wave of violence since Christmas Day bombings of
churches and other targets killed scores of
Police said after the overnight fighting in the
northeastern town of Potiskum, where the Islamists
attacked a police headquarters and robbed and
burnt two banks, that they had not yet determined
the death toll.
"Our men engaged Boko Haram gunmen in shootouts
for most of the night, which led to some deaths
and injuries," Yobe state police commissioner
Lawan Tanko told AFP. "It is too early to give
figures because we are still investigating the
Dozens of soldiers were deployed on Saturday and
took up positions around the police headquarters,
The town is part of a region placed under
emergency rule by President Goodluck Jonathan a
Dozens of Islamists stormed Potiskum and launched
gun and bomb attacks on the police headquarters.
They also threw a bomb into a nearby police
barracks but no-one was hurt, said residents.
People in nearby neighbourhoods fled their homes
in fear of military raids in the aftermath of the
attack, they said.
"Virtually all the residents have fled their homes
for fear of attack by soldiers who came to the
town this morning," said Idris Bakanike, a
resident of the Dogo Tebo area near the police
"We are afraid the soldiers will raid and burn our
homes like they do in Maiduguri each time Boko
Haram attack," said local resident Amiru Umar.
Soldiers in the northeastern city of Maiduguri
have been accused of burning homes and shooting
residents after attacks by the Islamists, accusing
residents of complicity with them.
Nigeria has been convulsed by a recent spate of
A Christian rights activist and a hospital source
said 10 men were gunned down inside a church on
Friday evening in downtown Yola city, the capital
of Adamawa state in northeastern Nigeria.
Earlier Friday over a dozen other Christians were
shot dead in Mubi town in the same state. It was
the deadliest attack in the region in the wake of
an ultimatum last Sunday by Islamists for
Christians to leave the north.
Five gunmen opened fire on Christian Igbos at a
house in Mubi in a daytime attack as they mourned
the death of a friend shot the night before.
Residents and a relief official reported up to 17
dead, while police said 12 were killed, with
between two and five people killed the previous
night in the same town.
On Thursday evening, gunmen stormed a church in
the northeastern city of Gombe and opened fire as
worshippers had their eyes closed in prayer,
killing six people, including the pastor's wife.
A purported spokesman for Islamist group Boko
Haram, Abul Qaqa, last Sunday issued a three-day
ultimatum for Christians to leave the north.
He also said a state of emergency declared in hard
hit areas last weekend by President Goodluck
Jonathan would not stop the sect.
"We are extending our frontiers to other places to
show that the declaration of a state of emergency
by the Nigerian government will not deter us... We
can really go to wherever we want to go."
Boko Haram is a shadowy group believed to have a
number of factions with differing aims, including
a hard-core Islamist faction.
It launched an uprising in 2009 put down by a
brutal military assault which left some 800 people
Since the group re-emerged in 2010, it has been
blamed for increasingly sophisticated and deadly
attacks, including an August suicide bombing of UN
headquarters in Abuja that killed 25.
On Christmas Day, a wave of bombings killed 49
people, most of them outside of a Catholic church
as services were ending, triggering intense fear
and outrage in Africa's largest oil producer.
There have been fears of reprisals from
Christians, and Christian leaders have warned they
will defend themselves if attacks continue.
Source - AFP
... go Back