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Nigeria - sectarian violence

Fighting continues in northern Nigeria

Article published on the 2009-07-29 Latest update 2009-07-29 11:19 TU

Displaced children in Maiduguri(Photo: AFP)

Displaced children in Maiduguri
(Photo: AFP)

Fighting raged through the night in the northern Nigerian city of Maiduguri, as government forces continue to attack an the Islamist militant stronghold.

Government troops have been attacking the mosque and base of the group’s leader Mohammed Yusuf.

At least 250 have been killed since the fighting started on Sunday although that figure looks set to rise after the overnight contact.

RFI correspondent Aminu Abubakar, who is in Maiduguri, described an “overnight battle” between the government troops and the self-styled Taliban militia in the heart of the city.

Eyewitness: correspondent Aminu Abubakar

29/07/2009 by David Coffey

“At dusk the shelling stopped and then fighting with light and heavy machine guns continued throughout the night up to this morning,” says Abubakar.

“The whole area is cordoned off so it’s too early to know what’s really going on and what happened overnight.”

The fate of Yusuf remains unclear although residents said it apppeared that troops were now closing in on the last of the militants.

There have been some claims of summary executions by the security forces.

Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua has promised that the Islamist  group will be routed and punished.

Yar’Adua said that the military operation would "contain them once and for all".

"They will be dealt with squarely and forthwith," he said

Dr Tajudeen Akanji of the Centre for Conflict and Peace Studies at the University of Ibadan told RFI that Mohammed Yusuf’s group did not represent the majority of Muslims in Nigeria.

“This is a sect in the north who are reacting to what they feel goes against their personal conviction… this is not a Muslim-Christian problem, it is something that is sectional,” says Akanji.

Analysis: Dr Tajudeen Akanji, Centre for Conflict and Peace, University of Ibadan

29/07/2009 by Billie O'Kadameri