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Nigerian Troops Battle Militants, Thousands Flee

Fighting continued in northern Nigeria Wednesday as government forces battled members of a radical Islamic sect.

Police sources say the latest clashes have been centered in the regional capital of Maiduguri. Officials say at least 3,000 people have been temporarily displaced by the fighting.

On Tuesday, government forces in the city shelled the home of Mohammed Yusuf, the leader of the group thought to be behind a series of deadly attacks across the region that have killed at least 150 people.

The Boko Haram sect - the so-called "Nigerian Taliban" - is believed to be responsible for attacks on police and government officials across the region.

The continued fighting comes after Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua told reporters late Tuesday that the situation was under control.

The violence began Sunday when the group attacked a police station in Bauchi state following the arrest of some of their leaders.

The clashes spread across the states of Yobe, Kano and Borno, with the city of Maiduguri bearing the brunt of the fighting. Authorities say the militants also have burned several churches across the region.

The Boko Haram group opposes Western culture and wants to establish a strict Islamic state across all of Muslim-dominated northern Nigeria.

A dozen of Nigeria's 36 states have introduced strict Islamic Sharia law in the past decade. The country is roughly evenly divided between Christians and Muslims, with Islam predominant in the northern part of the country. Periodic clashes between the two populations have left thousands of people dead in recent years.

On Tuesday, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced alarm over the deadly clashes. A spokesperson for Mr. Ban said the U.N. chief condemned the "unnecessary loss of human life" and property destruction as a result of the militant attacks.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.