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Nigeria - exclusive interview with Police Minister

Up to 200 Islamists killed as army pounds base

Article published on the 2009-07-30 Latest update 2009-07-30 10:00 TU

A Nigerian soldier lowers the Nigerian flag.(Photo: Dibussi Tande/Wikimedia Commons)

A Nigerian soldier lowers the Nigerian flag.
(Photo: Dibussi Tande/Wikimedia Commons)

Police Affairs Minister, Ibrahim Yakubu Lamé, accused members of the Boko Haram sect of using women and children as human shields in their base in the northern city of Maiduguri. On Thursday police reported that 200 sect members, including the deputy leader, were killed when the compound was razed in an overnight attack. Journalists put the figure closer to 90.

The attack came as the government deployed 1,000 more soldiers in Maiduguri, the base of the self-styled Nigerian Taliban. An army commander said members of the fundamentalist sect fled their bases after the military overran their mosque and leader's house base.

"We have taken over their enclave, they are on the run and we are going after them," said operation commander Colonel Ben Ahonotu. 

After four days of clashes, troops are struggling to clamp down on Boko Haram. Minister of Police Affairs, Ibrahim Yakubu Lamé, told RFI on Wednesday evening that the situation was under control everywhere except in Maiduguri.

“They were being very careful entering the place because they were using children and women as human shields there. We are sure that very soon we will be able to come to a conclusion," he said.

“This is a very narrow and congested area where there is a civilian population. They live among the people so that when the military moved in, they held on to their children."

Interview: Ibrahim Yakubu Lamé, Nigerian Minister of Police Affairs

30/07/2009 by Alexandra Brangeon

Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, has seen the worst of the unrest in northern Nigeria which started on Sunday in Bauchi state, when militants attacked a police station.


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