Islamist raid on Nigeria police station leaves dozens dead | News | DW | 07.05.2013
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Islamist raid on Nigeria police station leaves dozens dead

Gunmen in northeastern Nigeria have raided a police station and prison, leaving more than 50 people dead. A spokesman for the country's military said the Islamist sect Boko Haram was suspected of being behind the attack.

The coordinated attack by heavily armed militants resulted in at least 55 deaths, according to Nigerian authorities on Tuesday.

Military spokesman Lt: Col. Sagir Musa said a total of 22 police officers, 14 prison officials, two soldiers and four civilians were killed on Tuesday when heavily armed gunmen stormed the police station in the northeastern town of Bama in Borno State.

Musa, who attributed the attack to Islamist militant group Boko Haram, said 13 of the group's own members also died in the attack.

Some 200 heavily armed members of Boko Haram were reported to have arrived equipped with machine guns, before laying siege to the northeastern town.

The group arrived in pick-up trucks, first attacking the army barracks and police station before moving on to a prison, Musa said. A magistrates’ court and local government offices were also targeted.

"Some of the gunmen attacked the military barracks but they were repelled," said Musa.

"But the gunmen broke into the prison, freeing 105 inmates, and killed all prison warders they could see except those who hid in a store where cooking utensils were kept."

The Nigerian Premium Times newspaper reported that rocket-propelled grenades had been used in the attack.

No group has formally claimed responsibility for the incident, although Borno State is a stronghold of the Islamist group Boko Haram. The group, whose name means "Western education is sacrilege" in the Hausa language is calling for the release of prisoners from within its ranks and shariah law across Nigeria.

Although the official said only two government soldiers were killed, the Nigerian military is known to downplay its own casualty figures.

ccp/rc (AFP, Reuters, AP)