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Boko Haram - 2009

The group first came to widespread public attention on 26 July 2009, when militants from the sect attacked a police station in Bauchi state, triggering a wave of militant violence that spread to three other northern states. Nigerian authorities retaliated five days later by storming the group's sprawling Maiduguri headquarters, killing at least 100 people in the attack, half of them inside the sect's mosque. About 700 people were killed in days of violence in Maiduguri alone. There were suspicions that Mohammed Yusuf, the sect leader, had been executed after being captured. The military said it handed him over alive to police, while police insist he was killed in a gunbattle.

While police initially admitted killing Yusuf in custody, they subsequently claimed he died while trying to escape. Buji Fai, a former state government official suspected of funding Boko Haram, also reportedly died in custody along with Fagu. Later that year, then president YarAdua pledged to conduct a full investigation of the Boko Haram uprising, including the circumstances surrounding Yusufs death, but authorities had not publicly released the results of the investigation by years end.

Nigerian authorities had ignored dozens of warnings about the violent Islamist sect until it attacked police stations and government buildings. More than 50 Muslim leaders repeatedly called Nigeria's police, local authorities and state security to urge them to take action against Boko Haram sect militants but their pleas were ignored.

Boko Haram has been responsible for numerous attacks on local police stations and other religious groups in an effort to create a purified Islamist enclave in the northeast of the country. Nigerian authorities blame Boko Haram for thousands of deaths in bombings and shootings since mid-2009. Boko Haram had developed its own distinct brand of terror in Nigeria by carrying out acts of violence in crowds, seeking to inflict as much bloodshed and damage as possible.

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Page last modified: 22-08-2014 19:04:46 ZULU