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Archive for Friday, July 31, 2009

Islamist sect leader killed in custody

July 31, 2009

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— The leader of the Islamist sect blamed for days of violence in northern Nigeria has been shot and killed while in police custody, officials said Thursday.

The police commander of Borno state announced on state radio that Mohammed Yusuf, the leader of the sect some call the Nigerian Taliban, has “died in police custody.”

He gave no further explanation, but the state governor’s spokesman Usman Ciroma told The Associated Press: “I saw his body at police headquarters. I believe he was shot while he was trying to escape.”

Yusuf’s death could provoke more violence, though his followers in the Boko Haram sect may be in disarray after troops shelled his compound in the northern city of Maiduguri on Wednesday. Yusuf, 39, managed to escape with about 300 followers, some of them armed. His deputy, Bukar Shekau, was killed in the attack, according to Army commander Maj. Gen. Saleh Maina.

Troops killed about 100 militants by an AP reporter’s count, half of them inside the sect’s mosque. Soldiers then launched a manhunt, and Yusuf was reportedly found in a goat’s pen at the home of his in-laws.

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