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Nigerian army says seven die in latest Islamist attack

Source: Reuters - Thu, 25 Apr 2013 15:22 GMT
Author: Reuters
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* Two police, five attackers killed in police station raid

* Assault blamed on Boko Haram militants

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria, April 25 (Reuters) - Two Nigerian policemen and five attackers were killed in a midnight raid on a police station by suspected members of the Islamist sect Boko Haram in northeast Yobe state, the military said on Thursday.

The attack occurred less than a week after a bloody gun battle between Islamist insurgents and joint military forces from Nigeria, Chad and Niger in neighbouring Borno state.

That clash may have been one of the deadliest since Boko Haram launched an uprising in 2009. The Nigerian Red Cross is checking reports from locals that 187 people died, although government officials have said this figure is inflated.

Boko Haram and other Islamist groups, such as the al Qaeda-affiliated Ansaru, have become the greatest threat to security in Africa's second largest economy and top oil producer.

"At about midnight Thursday ... gunmen suspected to be Boko Haram terrorists attacked Joint Task Force location in Gashua town," spokesman for the Yobe military force Eli Lazarus said.

"Two police officers were killed in the attack while five of the suspected terrorists lost their lives during the encounter."

Lazarus said a rocket-propelled grenade, several vehicles, guns and ammunition had been recovered from the insurgents.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan is awaiting a report from a panel he set up to offer an amnesty to the insurgents if they give up their struggle for an Islamic state.

Boko Haram has so far shown no interest in talks and two mediators have already pulled out.

The sect, which wants an Islamic state in a country divided roughly equally between Christians and Muslims, has killed hundreds of people in guerrilla-style attacks, mostly targeting security forces in its northeastern stronghold. (Reporting by Lanre Ola; additional reporting by Isaac Abrak in Kaduna; Writing by Joe Brock; Editing by Alistair Lyon)

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