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Nigeria military shoots dead several people after blast: witnesses
by Staff Writers
Kano, Nigeria (AFP) Oct 08, 2012

Residents of a troubled northern Nigeria city accused soldiers of indiscriminately firing and killing several people Monday, after a bomb exploded on an army patrol.

Troops were deployed to the area following an early morning explosion that hit a military patrol van and injured at least two soldiers in the city of Maiduguri, a military statement said.

According to witnesses, the soldiers used whips and the butts of their guns to beat people but the level of violence later escalated, including setting fire to homes and shops.

"Initially, soldiers that came after the explosion harassed residents, whipping them," said one Maiduguri resident, who requested anonymity.

"But later they went on a shooting spree and started setting homes and shops on fire," he said, putting the number of dead at about 30.

Another resident, who did not give an estimate of the death toll, said that "soldiers came into the neighbourhood and started attacking people, shooting everybody in sight."

"They went about burning houses and businesses," he added, also speaking anonymously.

The violence in the Lagos Street-Gwange area of the northeastern city forced the closure of the Gamboru market, with traders shuttering their stalls amid the unrest, according to witnesses.

The military spokesman of Borno state, of which Maiduguri is the capital, said the explosion went off when a military patrol van drove over the device.

"There was a bomb blast involving a JTF vehicle at about 7:15 am (0615 GMT) today along Lagos Street in Maiduguri metropolis. Two soldiers sustained injury," said Lieutenant Colonel Sagir Musa in a statement, referring to a military Joint Task Force.

Two residents claimed they saw six dead soldiers being evacuated from the military van.

Rights groups have previously accused the military of using brutal tactics when responding to attacks on their personnel.

Asked about the latest allegations, Musa said, "I don't have any comment."

Maiduguri is considered the home base of Islamist group Boko Haram, blamed for killing more than 1,400 people in northern and central Nigeria since 2010.

No group has claimed Monday's attack on the military vehicle, but it resembled those previously carried out by the insurgents, who have said they want to create an Islamic state in the north of Africa's most populous country.

Boko Haram Islamists have killed scores of security personnel in bomb and shooting attacks since 2010.

Nigerian officials have been seeking to show success in the fight against the extremists with a number of raids and arrests.

The military on Sunday claimed the killing of 30 alleged Boko Haram members, including someone described as a senior field commander, following a gun battle that lasted several hours in the nearby city of Damaturu.

Nigeria has said it was engaging in a back-channel talks with the Islamists in an effort to stem the violence, but previous attempts at dialogue have failed and senior Boko Haram leaders have ruled out negotiations.

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Gunmen kill Chinese worker in northern Nigeria
Kano, Nigeria (AFP) Oct 08, 2012 - Gunmen have shot dead a Chinese national who was working as a chef for a construction company in Nigeria's troubled northeast, a company official said Monday.

Borno state, where the attack occurred on Sunday, has been hit hard by the radical Islamist group Boko Haram but the shooting in the town of Gubio may have been motivated by robbery.

"One of our Chinese workers, a cook, was killed by some gunmen who stormed the livestock section of the market where he had gone to buy a lamb in the company of two local staff," said Albert Audu, of the China Geo-Engineering Corporation (CGC).

Audu added that a livestock vendor in the market was also shot dead and that the alleged gunmen ran off with some cash. He identified the Chinese victim as 43-year-old Cheng Jingli.

Officials from the Chinese embassy in Nigeria could not immediately be reached for comment.

CGC is working on a road project in Gubio, roughly 80 kilometres (50 miles) from Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state and considered the base of the Boko Haram Islamists who are blamed for killing more than 1,400 people in Nigeria since 2010.

Imitators and criminal gangs including thieves are also believed to have carried out violence under the guise of the group. Boko Haram itself is also suspected of committed robberies, especially of banks, to finance their operations.

A military spokesman said he was yet to be informed of the attack.

Foreigners have been caught up in violence in Nigeria's volatile north in the past.

In July, suspected members of Boko Haram attacked a factory in Maiduguri, killing two Indian nationals and stealing about $600 in cash.

Separately, the high-profile kidnappings and subsequent deaths of British, Italian and German nationals earlier this year was blamed on Islamist extremists.

The Italian and British hostages were killed in the northwestern Nigerian city of Sokoto in March after being kidnapped nearly a year earlier and as a joint British and Nigerian rescue operation sought to save them.

A German kidnapped in Nigeria in January was killed during a military raid in May in the northern Nigerian city of Kano.

Foreign firms and embassies have been forced to increase security in the capital Abuja and in the country's north as a result of Boko Haram's insurgency.

Its attacks have included a suicide bombing of UN headquarters in Abuja in August 2011 that left at least 25 people dead.


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Ivory Coast to reopen Ghana border on Monday: defence minister
Abidjan (AFP) Oct 08, 2012
Ivory Coast's land and sea borders with Ghana, closed after a deadly attack on September 21, will reopen Monday, the defence minister announced late Sunday. Paul Koffi Koffi said on RTI public television that President Alassane Ouattara had decided the borders would reopen at 7:00 am (0700 GMT) Monday. All borders were closed after gunmen attacked a border checkpoint at Noe in Ivory Coas ... read more

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