Eleven dead in Nigeria after troops clash with Islamists

Nigerian troops have clashed with suspected members of Islamist group Boko Haram while raiding an alleged hideout. There were 11 casualties, including a soldier and police officer, the local media said on Sunday.

The clash was the deadliest of a string of incidents over the weekend, including an explosion in the north city of Kaduna as well as a shoot-out and an assassination of a local official in the north-east city of Maiduguri.

Three police stations were also attacked on Saturday in the north-east state of Yobe, leaving two people dead, according to police.

The violence came with the increasingly deadly insurgency being waged by Boko Haram, mainly in Nigeria’s predominantly Muslim north, showing little sign of abating despite last month’s bid to broker indirect talks with the government.

Large body count
Scores of such attacks have occurred, with more than 1 000 people killed since 2009.

The clash that left 11 dead occurred on Saturday in the Okene district of Kogi state in central Nigeria after soldiers and police raided the alleged hideout, said Jacob Edi, spokesperson for the state governor.

“There were some skirmishes between some hoodlums and the military,” Edi said. “There are unconfirmed reports that some of them may be Boko Haram … A military person was confirmed dead and a [secret police] person.”

He could not say how many of the assailants were killed, though local media reported that nine were dead and identified them as suspected Boko Haram members. Authorities were still searching for those who escaped, he said.

Edi said the raid occurred because soldiers wanted to defuse explosives said to be at the building, though local media gave varying accounts.

One report said the raid followed the discovery last week of an alleged bomb-making factory in another town in Kogi.

Military and secret police officials did not respond to requests for comment.

On Saturday night, suspected Boko Haram members attacked three police stations in Yobe, burning two of them down.

The dead in those assaults included one of the attackers, as well as a suspect being questioned at one of the stations at the time of the attack, police said.

Clumsy bomber
On Sunday in Kaduna, police said a man wanted to plant a bomb on a petrol tanker but it exploded prematurely after he dropped it.

The blast killed the bomber, who police said was dressed in rags to disguise himself, and the tanker was unaffected.

In Maiduguri on Sunday, soldiers engaged in a shoot-out with alleged Boko Haram members, killing two of the assailants, a military spokesperson said.

Later in the afternoon, attackers shot dead a local government official at his house in Maiduguri, the spokesperson said. The shooters fled with his car and remain at large.

Boko Haram’s insurgency has raised deep concern in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and largest oil producer.

An attempt to hold indirect talks between group and the government in March appears to have collapsed, with a mediator pulling out over leaks to the media and a purported Boko Haram spokesperson saying they could not trust the government. Sapa-AFP

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