Nigeria: Feared Muslim sect that launched prison break kills political leader

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Nigeria: Muslim sect members kill political leader

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria — Members of a radical Muslim sect shot and killed a political leader in northern Nigeria, the latest attack by a group that engineered a massive prison break last month, a police commissioner said Thursday.

Police commissioner Ibrahim Abdu told The Associated Press that investigators believe members of the feared Boko Haram sect shot and killed Awana Ngala, the leader of the state’s ruling All Nigeria People’s Party. The attack came only three hours after suspected group members shot two security agents stationed Wednesday night outside the home of the speaker of Borno state’s House of Assembly.

Ngala’s killing could mark the 11th slaying by the Boko Haram sect in recent weeks. The group has lately been responsible for a rash of killings committed by Kalashnikov-carrying men riding motorcycle taxis, and Ngala’s death fits that profile.

Many of the killings targeted those who testified against group members in open court after a 2009 riot that sparked a security crackdown that left more than 700 people dead.

Abdu said no arrests have been made.

“We have intensified our investigations on the serial attacks and killings,” Abdu said.

Boko Haram — which means “Western education is sacrilege” in the local Hausa language — has campaigned for the implementation of strict Shariah law. Nigeria, a nation of 150 million people, is divided between the Christian-dominated south and the Muslim-held north. A dozen states across Nigeria’s north already have Shariah law in place, though the area remains under the control of secular state governments.

In recent months, rumors about the group rearming have spread throughout northern Nigeria, though its former leader died in police custody after the 2009 riot in what human rights activists described as an extrajudicial killing. A video recording released in late June showed a Boko Haram leader calling for new violence as the one-year anniversary of their attack neared.

In September, the sect launched a coordinated attack on a federal prison in Bauchi that held many of its followers arrested following last year’s riot. The raid freed about 750 prisoners — many of whom were members of the sect that still remain at large.

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