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Police station, schools attacked in north Nigeria

By Haruna Umar and Shehu Saulawa
Associated Press / February 28, 2012
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MAIDUGURI, Nigeria—Smoke hovered over uniformed students frolicking in a playground Tuesday, hours after assailants set their school ablaze and destroyed another local school, showing how commonplace violence has become in Nigeria's northeast.

Assailants attacked Gamboru Primary School just after dawn and then, just over 3 miles (5 kilometers) away, razed a newly renovated, secular coeducational school to the ground in the northeastern city of Maiduguri, said military spokesman Lt. Col. Hassan Mohammed.

He said there were no deaths and that the police were still investigating.

The attack comes two days after a man using the nom de guerre Abul-Qaqa and speaking for a radical known as Boko Haram told journalists that the sect was responsible for burning down another primary school in Maiduguri, its spiritual home, as a warning to security agencies not to raid Islamic schools.

Meanwhile, gunmen late Monday night attacked a police station and a bank in a northeastern town close to the city of Bauchi where Boko Haram launched a massive prison break in September 2010 that freed about 700 inmates.

This latest attack occurred in Jama'are, about 125 miles (200 kilometers) from Bauchi, killing a policeman and wounding another, said Aliyu Suleiman, a town official.

Habibu Adamu, a Jama'are resident, said he heard multiple blasts coming from different directions at about 10 p.m. Monday, followed by gunshots that lasted for at least an hour.

A search team safely detonated 12 explosive devices found in the town after the attack, Suleiman said.

Authorities declined to say if they suspect anyone.

Boko Haram, which means "Western education is sacrilege," in the local Hausa language, has carried out similar attacks across Nigeria in a campaign of killings that has left at least 313 people dead this year alone, according to an Associated Press count.

In other violence, gunmen attacked a police station on Tuesday evening in a busy residential neighborhood of the northern city of Kano, and when police shot back a civilian was killed in the crossfire, said Kano state police spokesman Musa Magaji Majya.

In parts of northern Nigeria most affected by sect violence, the Nigerian government has imposed dusk-to-dawn curfews and banned motorcycles that people once relied on in the absence of a mass transit system. Residents there live in fear of sect attacks and are subjected to numerous checkpoints, house searches without warrants and arbitrary arrests under a recently imposed state of emergency.

The government has responded to the insurgency by deploying troops to affected areas, including Nigeria's northeast where the attacks have been most persistent, but the lack of intelligence data on Boko Haram's activities has crippled efforts to secure one the country's most impoverished regions.

On Sunday night, gunmen shot four people dead and wounded six in a rural area of the central state of Kaduna, a religious flashpoint that sits on the dividing line between Nigeria's mostly Christian south and largely Muslim north, police said.

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AP writers Shehu Saulawa in Bauchi, Saadatu Mohammed in Gombe, Ibrahim Garba in Kano, and another in Kaduna contributed to this report.

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