Toll in Nigerian clashes now put at over 600August 3rd, 2009 - 12:17 am ICT by IANS
Nairobi/Abuja, Aug 2 (DPA) The death toll in recent bloody clashes in the town of Maiduguri and other northern Nigerian districts was stated by police and military sources Sunday to have been more than 600, well above earlier estimates of between 300 and 400.
A spokeswoman for the Red Cross in Maiduguri was quoted as saying there was a real danger of disease breaking out on a large scale as hundreds of bodies had been left out on the open streets for days.
The first mass burials were reported to be going ahead at the weekend following the clashes, involving the Nigerian military plus local security forces, and followers of the Boko Haram Islamic sect.
Police Friday had announced the death of the sect’s leader Mohammed Yusuf, hailing the 39-year-old’s killing as a victory over extremism, but human rights workers called for an investigation.
Yusuf was shot Thursday night as security forces cracked down on his followers. A police spokesman said he had been “killed by security forces in a shootout while trying to escape”.
Yusuf was captured after the military stormed his compound and a mosque in Maiduguri, in Borno state. Yusuf was paraded before local journalists after his capture.
Several hours later, he was dead, supposedly shot while escaping. The New York-based Human Rights Watch called for an investigation into Yusuf’s death, saying it believed it to be unlawful.
Yusuf’s Boko Haram, which is called the Nigerian Taliban and was formed in 2002, seeks to impose sharia, or Islamic law, across the whole of Nigeria and is also opposed to Western education.
Boko Haram launched a series of attacks on police stations last Sunday. President Umaru Yar’Adua, who is himself a Muslim from the north, authorised the army to take whatever action was necessary to restore order.
The police and army quickly struck back with brutal force, and the majority of those killed were reported to have been militants, although civilians were also among the dead.
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Tags: abuja, aug 2, bloody clashes, boko, brutal force, burials, death toll, extremism, islamic law, islamic sect, last sunday, local security, maiduguri, military sources, open streets, police spokesman, police stations, security forces, umaru yar adua, western education