KANO, Nigeria (AFP) — A former police officer and two of his friends were killed yesterday in a shoot-out in Nigeria that also killed three suspected members of the Boko Haram Islamist group.
Lieutenant Colonel Sagir Musa, spokesman for the elite unit hunting down Boko Haram members, said militants attacked soldiers in the city of Maiduguri in a raid launched late Saturday, triggering a fierce gunbattle that lasted until early yesterday.
"The attack was repelled. Sect members retreated through narrow paths to different locations only to reorganise and shoot dead a retired police inspector and two of his friends right in front of his house."
Musa said three Boko Haram members were killed in the shoot-out.
One resident said about 20 gunmen attacked a police station with rifles and explosives.
"There was a shoot-out that continued throughout the night and around 200 residents were forced to lie on their faces along the streets to avoid being caught in crossfire," he said. Another local man said he saw six dead bodies.
"The shooting continued throughout the night, we did not sleep," he said.
Boko Haram, blamed for a wave of attacks mainly in northern Nigeria, has targeted mostly the police and other symbols of authority in Africa's most populous nation, but also churches. Although its specific aims remain largely unclear, violence by the sect since mid-2009 has claimed more than 1,000 lives, including more than 300 this year alone.