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Nigerian Troops Kill Nine Suspected Islamist Gunmen in Kano

Nine gunmen suspected of belonging to Nigeria’s Boko Haram Islamist group were shot dead by troops in the northern state of Kano after they attacked a police station and a bank, the military said.

“They used improvised explosive devices to bomb these places,” Brigadier General Iliyasu Abba, military commander in Kano city, told reporters today. “We quickly mobilized our men to the scene and that was how we successfully got them.” Two more gunmen were arrested, he said.

Authorities in Africa’s top oil producer blame Boko Haram, which draws inspiration from Afghanistan’s Taliban movement, for a surge of violence in the mainly Muslim north and in Abuja, the capital, in which more than 1,000 people have died since 2009. The group claimed responsibility for multiple blasts and attacks in the city of Kano on Jan. 20 that killed at least 256 people, according to the Civil Rights Congress.

Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is a sin,” recently made contact with the government for peace talks through an Islamic leader, Abul Qaqa, a spokesman said yesterday. The initiative was called off after the group decided the government wasn’t sincere, he said.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country with more than 160 million people, is roughly split between a mainly Muslim north and a predominantly Christian south. Boko Haram poses a more serious threat to the country than the 1967-1970 Biafra civil war, President Goodluck Jonathan said on Jan. 8.

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