Nigerian army kills 30 in militant bastion: witnesses

Fri Nov 2, 2012 1:25pm EDT
 

By Ibrahim Mshelizza

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (Reuters) - Nigerian troops shot dead at least 30 people during raids in the northeast city of Maiduguri, bastion of the radical Islamist sect Boko Haram, witnesses and hospital staff said on Friday.

Boko Haram says it wants to create an Islamic state in Nigeria and its fighters have killed hundreds in bomb and gun attacks targeting security forces, politicians and civilians since launching an uprising in 2009. The sect has become the top security threat to Africa's biggest energy-producing state.

Three witnesses told Reuters that soldiers from the Joint Task Force (JTF) raided several neighborhoods in Maiduguri late on Thursday and arrested or shot dead dozens of people.

"More than 30 bodies were brought in by the JTF yesterday and most of them were young men," a nurse at one Maiduguri hospital Yagana Bukar told Reuters. The military spokesman in Maiduguri did not respond to requests for comment.

"Yesterday around the Gambaru area, soldiers raided places with an insider who pointed to suspected terrorists and they just killed some of them on the spot and others were taken away," a civil servant who saw the attacks told Reuters, asking not to be named. He said he saw more than 40 dead bodies.

A recent military crackdown has reduced the more deadly Boko Haram attacks seen early this year, although violence in Maiduguri and the rest of northeast Borno state is still an almost daily occurrence.

Western governments are concerned about Boko Haram linking up with other militant groups in the region, including al Qaeda's north African wing.

Amnesty International said in a report on Thursday that the JTF had committed human rights abuses in its fight against Boko Haram that were fuelling the insurgency.   Continued...

 
Officials of Amnesty international Lucy Freeman (L), Salil Shetty (C) and Steve Crawshaw speak during a news conference in Nigeria's capital Abuja November 1, 2012. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde