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Forty-two dead as Nigerian Taliban clash with police

Article published on the 2009-07-26 Latest update 2009-07-27 09:57 TU

Nigerian soldiers(Photo: Reuters)

Nigerian soldiers
(Photo: Reuters)

Clashes in northern Nigeria have claimed 42 lives, according to medical personnel. The deaths reportedly came during fighting between police and members of a radical sect inspired by Afghanistan's Taliban.

The fighting took place in the city of Bauchi when armed fighters attacked a police station, the authorities say.

Five assailants were killed then, according to police, but the security forces then pursued the rest.

"A joint group of soldiers and policemen were dispatched to this area where they had their hideout," reports Kano correspondent Aminu Abubakar. "Where they engaged them in a battle in which about 33 members of the group were killed and one soldier lost his life."

Q+A: Kano correspondent Aminu Abubakar

26/07/2009 by Billie O'Kadameri

Local hospitals report receiving 42 bodies.

Over 100 members of the group have been arrested, says Abubakar, but the authorities are reluctant to declare the fighting is definitively finished.

"In similar attacks the group launched in Kano, Yobe and Baruwa states in the past it took almost two or three days before they could be contained," says Abubakar.

The sect, which is mainly made up of students who have dropped their studies, was founded in Nigeria in 2004 and is alleged to have links to other armed Islamist movements in Africa and elsewhere. It demands what it calls "full sharia" Islamic law in all 12 states in the Muslim-majority north.

"They are inspired by the Afghan Taliban," says Abubakar, who interviewed one of their leaders four years ago. "They want to establish an Islamic state which is quite puritanical in the model of the Afghan Taliban."

In 2007, its alleged leader, Mohammed Bello Ilyas Damagun, was put on trial, charged with receiving funds from the Al-Qaeda terror network, sending recruits abroad for training and helping terror activity inside Nigeria. Another alleged member, Mohammed Yusuf, faced five charges of illegally receiving foreign currency. Both denied the charges.

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