Article published on the 2009-07-30 Latest update 2009-07-31 11:31 TU
Police and army say they killed hundreds of fighters in a dawn raid Thursday morning.
“Substantially, we believe that we’ve brought the situation under control,” Nigerian Army spokesperson Brigadier General Olu Kolade told RFI.
Deputy leader of the local group, Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, is reported dead, though the leader, Mohammed Yousuf escaped capture.
“The leader is yet to be apprehended, but a number of the people who are influential have been apprehended, and we believe that shortly those who are active in this will be completely under our hold,” Kolade says.
The rebels claim to have taken four soldiers and nine police officers hostage, but the army refuses to confirm or deny the reports.
As the day wore on, dead bodies continue to litter the streets, where life is slowly returning to normal.
“There is an uneasy calm in the city with vehicles on the roads and people starting to come out of their houses where they’ve been hiding for three days to escape the fighting,” said correspondent Aminu Abubakar in Maiduguri.
Abubakar counted “about 90 bodies” on the streets in his walks around town.
After speakign with witnesses of the fighting, he reports “yesterday while the battle was raging, they saw four four-wheel drives moving out of the enclave in high speed and they suspected that Mohammed Yousuf was in one of these jeeps.”
“There is a strong military and police presence on the streets, erecting checkpoints, checking vehicles for weapons and frisking passengers in an attempt to fish out any remnants of the Taliban that are on the run,” Abubakar told RFI.
The Red Cross has set up a field hospital and is treating the wounded. As the fighting subsided Thursday, they were able to drive around town looking for the wounded, Aliyu Mai-Kano, a local Red Cross worker told RFI.
“We have almost 180 in the hospital being treated,” he said.
The violence erupted when members Boko Haram, which wants a wider adoption of Islamic law, were arrested at the week-end on suspicion of planning an attack on a police station.
Boko Haram supporters have since attacked churches, police stations, prisons and government buildings.
The rioting spread across several states in northern Nigeria.
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