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Army ends offensive in Maiduguri as Islamists flee

Video by Florence VILLEMINOT

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2009-07-30

Members of a homegrown radical Islamist sect fled their base in the northern city of Maiduguri after the army seized their camp and sent an extra thousand troops in the region.

Clashes between members of an Islamic sect and Nigerian security forces halted mid-morning on Thursday in the northern city and “Nigerian Taliban” stronghold of Maiduguri after days of fierce fighting, according to an AFP reporter. 

 

Fighting in Maiduguri, capital of the state of Borno, and three other states have claimed over 600 lives in five days, according to police and witnesses. On Wednesday police announced over 300 dead.

The fiercest clashes took place in Maiduguri, where the army sent a thousand soldiers on Wednesday to reinforce troops. Hours later, a military commander said members of the Islamist sect fled the city after their base was overrun.

 

Borno state government spokesman Usman Chiroma said the situation was under control and the dusk-to-dawn curfew had been relaxed.

 

“Since Wednesday, the military have been claiming that the situation was under control,” said Ali Kabre, a reporter for Radio France Internationale said on Thursday. “Soldiers were posted in all the hot spots of Maiduguri, and were still firing at various targets of the city this morning.”

 


Mohamed Yusuf, the spiritual leader of the “Nigerian Taliban” or “Boko Haram” group , has, according to police, escaped the bombing of his home. “The military are having a hard time finding him because he is hiding within the population. Police are searching each house to find him,” added Kabre.

Fighting first erupted on Sunday in the state of Bauchi between the Boko Haram and security forces. Clashes then spread to the states of Yobe, Kano and Borno.

The group is aiming to impose Islamist  sharia law throughout Nigeria  - which has a Muslim majority in the North and a Christian majority in the south. Sharia law is already applied in 12 over Nigeria’s 36 states.

Date created : 2009-07-30

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