Nigerian Troops Kill 10 Militants, Arrest 65 in Northeast

Nigerian troops killed 10 Boko Haram Islamist insurgents and arrested 65 others in clashes around the northeastern city of Maiduguri, a military spokesman said.

Fighting in the Gamboru district of the Borno state capital yesterday left 10 militants dead, while 65 others fleeing military attacks on their camps in the northern and central parts of the state were arrested trying to enter the city, Chris Olukolade, a defense ministry spokesman, said today in an e-mailed statement from Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

“All the suspects are in custody of Joint Task Force and are currently being interrogated,” Olukolade said. Eleven vehicles and weapons including rocket-propelled grenades were among items seized by troops from the insurgents, he said.

Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is a sin” in the local Hausa language, has carried out gun and bomb attacks across Nigeria’s north and Abuja since the police killed its founder, Mohammed Yusuf, while in custody for his role in clashes with the security forces in Maiduguri in 2009. The group says it wants Islamic rule in Africa’s biggest oil producer.

President Goodluck Jonathan on May 14 declared emergency rule in the three northeastern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa to tackle the insurgency that has killed thousands since 2009. Parts of the country’s northeast were being taken over by Islamist militants, Jonathan said. Africa’s most populous country of more than 160 million people is almost evenly split between a mainly Muslim north and a predominantly Christian south.

24-Hour Curfew

Jonathan’s action followed violence in Baga, a fishing town on the shores of Lake Chad, that killed as many as 228 people after security forces responded to an attack by militants on April 16, according to local officials. The army says 30 insurgents, six civilians and a soldier were killed, and 30 houses were burned down. New York-based Human Rights Watch said satellite images of Baga show at least 2,000 homes were destroyed.

Troops mounted air and ground attacks two days ago on camps used by the militants, destroying anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons, according to the army. A 24-hour curfew was imposed today on eight Maiduguri districts, including Gamborou, as the joint military task force operating in the area hunts for militants, Sagir Musa, a military spokesman in the city, said in an e-mailed statement.

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