Six people died, including a former high-ranking police officer and three suspected Boko Haram militants in a shoot-out in Nigeria that witnesses say lasted almost two days, Agence France-Presse reports.
About 20 gunmen attacked a police station in the state capitlal, Maiduguri with rifles and explosives, forcing about 200 residents to lie on the streets to avoid being caught in the crossfire, according to AFP.
Lieutenant Colonel Sagir Musa, a spokesperson for the unit responsible for hunting down Boko Haram, said three sect members were killed in the clash.
“The attack was repelled, “ he told AFP. “Sect members retreated through narrow paths to different locations only to reorganize and shoot dead a retired police inspector and two of his friends right in front of his house."
Samuel Tizhe, a spokesperson for the police in Maiduguri, told Bloomberg News the police officer was the city's former deputy controller of prisons, Abdullahi Bello.
Nigeria’s The Nation newspaper reports that the victim was also the father of Abu Qaqa, the suspected Boko Haram spokesperson who was detained in February.
Maiduguri has been the scene of multiple attacks by Boko Haram, an Islamist militant group that says it wants to impose Sharia law in Nigeria and free imprisoned members. Boko Haram means “Western education is a sin,” and the group is believed to take inspiration from the Taliban.
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Boko Haram claims Al Qaeda links, but some analysts say those ties are non-operational. In a speech early this week, Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika said the organization is a regional threat and vowed to “flush” Boko Haram out of the country.
“Some of these terrorists are trained in some neighboring countries,” he said, according to The Nation. “I believe that phase one of our operation is to flush them out of Nigeria, then in line with the nation’s commitment to the sub-region, we would be prepared to assist our neighbors.”
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Boko Haram has been waging a violent campaign against the Nigerian government since 2009. At least 360 people have been killed in attacks this year alone, according to the AP.