KANO, Nigeria (AFP) – Suspected Islamists killed eight people, including three policemen, in five separate attacks in the northern Nigerian city of Maiduguri, the military and police said Thursday.
The gunmen were suspected of being members of the Boko Haram sect, army spokesman lieutenant Abubakar Abdullahi told AFP by telephone from the city.
The sect launched an uprising in Nigeria’s north last year that ended with a police and military assault which left hundreds dead.
“Eight people, including three policemen were killed late Wednesday in five separate attacks by gunmen suspected to be members of BokoHaram sect,” the spokesman added.
“The policemen were killed in Ruwan Zafi district of Maiduguri in an attack on a police patrol team by suspected Boko Haram sect members who also burnt down the patrol van,” he said.
He said that several suspects had been arrested over the incidents, the latest in the string of attacks by the sect in the last week.
Lawal Abdullahi, the police spokesman in Borno State, of which Maiduguri is the capital, also confirmed that three policemen were killed in the attack.
“We lost three men in a shootout with suspected members of the outlawed Boko Haram,” he told AFP. “The suspects launched an attack on one of our patrol vehicles and burnt it. The policemen were outnumbered by the attackers.”
Five civilians were killed in four other separate targeted attacks launched by motorcycle-riding gunmen in the volatile northeastern city.
In two separate attacks in the same city, suspected Boko Haram gunmen killed a policeman and retiredpolice officer on Tuesday while three civilians suffered gunshot wounds, the police said.
That attack came barely a day after gunmen suspected to be part of a radical Islamic sect, calling itself on a website Jama?atu Ahlus-Sunnah Lidda?Awati Wal Jihad, claimed responsibility for Christmas eve attacks that killed dozens of people in central Nigerian city of Jos.
The sect claimed responsibility for multiple explosions in Jos in which at least 80 people were killed in attacks and in reprisal killings.
The police said 32 people people were killed in Jos attacks.
The group also claimed to be behind the attack on three churches in Maiduguri on the same day in which six people were killed and a church was burnt down.
Boko Haram members have been blamed for a string of attacks in the north of the west African country targeting policemen and community leaders, especially in Maiduguri.
Jos is in the so-called middle-belt region between the predominantly Muslim north and the mainly Christian south and has long been a hotspot of ethnic and religious friction.
Many attribute the unrest in Jos to the struggle for economic and political power between the Christian Beroms, seen as the indigenous ethnic group in the region, and the Hausa-Fulani Muslims, viewed as the more recent arrivals.
These attacks come ahead of elections set for April.