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Dozens killed in bomb and gun attack in northern Nigeria

AFP archive picture I Boko Haram fighters have been involved in terror operations in northern Nigeria

A bomb at a local government building on the outskirts of Zaria in northern Nigeria killed at least 25 people on Tuesday morning and then three gunmen opened fire on a crowd of civil servants there.

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Zinari Shehu, a local radio journalist who was at the scene, said the bomb went off at around 10 a.m. (0900 GMT) in Zaria’s suburb of Gogarawa, where people were gathered to greet a newly appointed head administrator.

“Three gunmen dressed in black opened fire at the scene inside the secretariat, that was when I ran out,” Ibrahim Mohammed, a local government worker, told Reuters.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack but it had hallmarks of Islamist militant group Boko Haram, which has stepped up attacks over the last ten days.

The last major attack in Kaduna state was in July 2014 when at least 82 people were killed by suicide bombers. One targeted President Muhammadu Buhari, who was then an opposition leader.

Last week alone, more than 200 people died in a string of attacks. On Sunday, at least 44 people were killed in Jos and on Monday a suicide bomber failed in an attempt to hit a major mosque in Nigeria’s second biggest city of Kano.

Boko Haram has been trying to establish a state adhering to strict sharia law through an insurgency that began in 2009. It controlled territory larger than Belgium at the end of 2014.

Nigerian and regional forces have joined together to push the jihadists out of most of that territory but the militants have a last stronghold in the Sambisa forest reserve and many have dispersed throughout the country.

With their progressive loss of territory since the start of the year, the militants have returned to their guerrilla tactics of hitting soft targets.

(REUTERS)

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