Nigerian Army Says 35 Killed in Clashes With Islamists

Nigerian security forces repelled two attacks by suspected Boko Haram Islamist militants in the northeast that left 35 people dead, the army said.

Among those killed in the fighting yesterday in the towns of Bama and Mallam Fatori in Borno state were 32 militants, two soldiers and a policeman, Sagir Musa, a regional spokesman, said today in an e-mailed statement.

In Bama 17 militants were killed after they attacked a police base using weapons including improvised explosive devices, said Musa. One policeman was killed in the clash and two soldiers were wounded. In Mallam Fatori 15 suspected Boko Haram members and two soldiers were killed in the clash that followed an attack on a military location.

Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is a sin” in the Hausa language, has killed thousands of people in gun and bomb attacks since 2009 in the mainly Muslim north and the capital, Abuja, in its campaign to establish an Islamic state in Africa’s largest oil producer. Nigeria’s more than 160 million people are roughly split between Christians, predominant in the south, and Muslims, mostly in the north.

Nigerian troops began an air and ground offensive against the militants on May 16, two days after President Goodluck Jonathan imposed emergency rule in the northeastern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa to step up the fight against the Islamists. The insurgents were taking over parts of Borno state, according to Jonathan.

In Bama troops recovered four Toyota Hilux pickup trucks and weapons including rocket propelled grenade tubes, 10 AK-47 rifles and assorted ammunition, Musa said.

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