Security forces in Nigeria have killed at least 16 suspected members of the radical Islamist sect Boko Haram in the north-eastern city of Maiduguri, the army said Wednesday.
Witnesses told the Associated Press that overnight clashes broke out on Tuesday evening after the army fired on suspected militants in areas of the city believed to be hideouts for the sect, while the sound of explosions could be heard for several hours.
A spokesman for the military, Col Victor Ebhaleme, told the news agency that the 16 people killed were “Boko Haram terrorists,” and that the army had retrieved ammunition and weapons during the operation.
According to the Agence France Presse, Maiduguri is at the very centre of the insurgency that Boko Haram is waging in Nigeria, which has taken more than 1000 lives over the past three years.
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The sect – whose name means “western education is forbidden” and which wants to create an Islamic state in parts of the country – located its mosque and HQ there until a 2009 military assault destroyed them. Thousands of residents have fled the city to escape escalating violence, in which Nigerian soldiers have also been accused of committing abuses.
Meanwhile, in a separate attack in the northern city of Kano on Tuesday night, suspected members of Boko Haram killed a retired policeman as well as two serving officers, the BBC reports. According to Reuters, the group have also claimed responsibility for a suicide car bomb attack on a church in northern Nigeria in which at least a dozen people died.
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