May 8 (Bloomberg) -- Suspected members of Nigeria’s Islamist militant group Boko Haram killed at least 42 people in raids in the northeastern town of Bama, local authorities said.
The attackers hit a military barracks, prison, police station and government administrative buildings yesterday, according to military and police spokesmen. Twenty-two police officers, 14 prison officials, two soldiers, three children and a women died in the clashes, they said. Thirteen attackers were reported killed.
Nigeria, Africa’s biggest oil producer, has faced increased sectarian turmoil in the north, where the government has been battling Boko Haram since 2009. Last month, at least 185 people died in Baga in clashes sparked by an attack on a military patrol. Four days ago, 39 people were killed in fighting between Muslims and Christians in the eastern town of Wukari.
In the latest incident, about 200 gunmen, who arrived in 18-seater buses and Toyota Hilux trucks mounted with machine guns, attacked a military barracks in Bama, about 730 kilometers (454 miles) northeast of the capital, Abuja, according to army spokesman Sagir Musa. Two soldiers and 10 attackers were killed in fighting there, he said.
Attackers “came in army uniform pretending to be soldiers,” though genuine members of the military were able to detect them, Musa said. At about the same time, attackers killed 14 prison officials in a raid that freed 105 inmates, he told reporters yesterday.
The gunmen also burned down a police station and barracks as well as the local magistrate court and government offices. Some of the buildings were still ablaze when reporters arrived.
The police area commander in Bama, Alhaji Sagir, told reporters that 22 police officers were killed, and three children and a woman were burned to death. Three attackers were killed by the police, he said.
Nigeria is Africa’s most populous nation with more than 160 million people and is almost evenly split between a largely Muslim north and a predominantly Christian south. Boko Haram, which means “Western education is a sin,” seeks to impose Islamic rule on the country.
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