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Suicide Attack Kills Five at Police Base in Northeast Nigeria

June 8 (Bloomberg) -- A suicide-car bomb attack in Nigeria on the regional police headquarters in Maiduguri, the capital of northeastern Borno state, killed five people and wounded at least three others, a police spokesman said.

The bomb was detonated “right outside the gate of the headquarters” after the attacker was “prevented from gaining access,” Frank Mbah said in an e-mailed statement today from Abuja, the capital. Police have “made substantial progress” in tracking down those behind the attack, he said.

The suicide bomber is thought to be a member of the Boko Haram Islamist group, Victor Ebhaleme, a spokesman for the military task force in charge of security in the region, said by telephone from Maiduguri. In a related incident, a suspected Boko Haram member was killed when an improvised explosive device went off as he was planting it in Maiduguri, Ebhaleme said.

Authorities in Nigeria, Africa’s biggest oil producer, blame Boko Haram, which wants to impose strict Islamic law in the country, for attacks in the mainly Muslim north and Abuja that have killed hundreds of people this year.

Sheikh Dahiru Usman, a Nigerian Muslim cleric, said on June 5 he had made contact with government officials and Boko Haram leaders and that both sides agreed to start talks. Abul Qaqa, a Boko Haram spokesman, denied that the group had been approached and said a March decision to rule out negotiations had not changed.

President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration said talks will be held with the militants on the condition that they announce a cease-fire for at least 40 days, after which the government will stop arresting their members, Usman said.

Former Nigerian leader Olusegun Obasanjo said on May 11 that Jonathan’s government is pursuing talks with the group.

To contact the reporter on this story: Gbenga Akingbule in Maiduguri, Nigeria, at gakingbule@bloomberg.net; Elisha Bala-Gbogbo in Abuja, Nigeria, at ebalagbogbo@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Emily Bowers at ebowers1@bloomberg.net

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