Suicide Attack by Boko Haram in Northeastern Nigeria Kills Eight

A suicide bomber suspected to belong to militant Islamist sect Boko Haram killed at least eight people in the northeastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri as the group’s leader claimed responsibility for an earlier raid.

Five policemen, two civilians and the attacker “died almost immediately after the bomb explosion by a suspected Boko Haram member,” who drove a car laden with explosives into a police vehicle, police spokesman Gideon Jubrin said by phone from Maiduguri today.

Maiduguri has been the scene of several attacks this year, including a March 14 raid on the army’s Giwa barracks, for which Boko Haram’s leader claimed responsibility in what he said was an attempt to free 2,000 of his followers.

“We carried out the attacks in Maiduguri, as we were responsible for the other attacks being carried out,” Abubakar Shekau said in a video message in the Hausa language handed to reporters late yesterday in the state capital, referring to the Giwa raid. The message was Shekau’s third video appearance since the army said in August that he’d probably died from wounds sustained in a June 30 clash with security forces.

Boko Haram has previously used suicide operatives “principally in connection with the placement of vehicle-borne devices,” Thomas Hansen, senior Africa analyst at Control Risks in London, said in response to e-mailed questions. “Examples include the 2011 police headquarters and UN building attacks in Abuja as well as some attacks on churches in 2011 and 2012.”

Boko Haram, which means “Western education is a sin” in Hausa, has carried out a violent campaign since 2009 to impose Shariah, or Islamic Law, in Africa’s biggest oil producer. London-based Amnesty International said last month that more than 600 people have been killed in northern Nigeria this year “by gunmen often suspected to be Boko Haram.”

“We are not fighting the north, we are fighting the world,” Shekau said in the message. He also threatened to abduct “infidel women” and sell them as slaves.

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