Sunday, October 24, 2010

Suspected Islamists Boko Haram attack northern Nigeria police station

KANO, Nigeria —(AFP) Suspected Islamist sect members on Sunday attacked a police station in northern Nigeria, leading to a gun battle with officers, authorities said, in the latest such incident in recent months.

An unknown number of suspected members of the Boko Haram sect, which launched an uprising last year, attacked the police station in the town of Bara in Yobe state early Sunday, said police commissioner Mamman Sule.

The gun battle lasted for about an hour, he said, adding he had no report of any casualties. A police officer speaking on condition of anonymity said one of the attackers was killed in the shootout.

"The attackers -- suspected to be members of the outlawed Boko Haram -- engaged the police in a shootout, and when they were overpowered, they fled," said Sule.

"We have deployed mobile police units through the town and surrounding villages as well as surrounding (forest) searching for the attackers."

The police officer who did not want to be named said the suspected sect members also threw a homemade gas cylinder bomb into the police station, but it did not explode. Sule did not confirm the explosive was used.

Attackers believed to be Boko Haram members used similar explosives in an attack on a prison in September and to torch a police station in another area of the north earlier this month.

Last year's uprising was put down by a brutal military and police assault that left hundreds dead.

A series of recent attacks in the northern city of Maiduguri, the centre of last year's uprising, have led to military deployments there. Attacks have included shootings of police officers and others by gunmen on motorcycles.

Nigeria's 150 million population is roughly divided in half between Christians and Muslims. The country's south is predominately Christian, while the north is mainly Muslim.

Boko Haram means "Western education is sin" in the local Hausa language, though the sect has been known by various names. It has advocated the creation of an Islamic state in Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation.

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