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Explosions, Gunfire Rock Northeastern Nigerian Town

  • VOA News

Potiskum, Nigeria

Potiskum, Nigeria

Explosions and gunfire shook a city in northeastern Nigeria Wednesday, two days after violence in the region killed at least 24 people.

Residents of Potiskum in Yobe state say the fighting began around 6:00 a.m. local time. A local television station reports that Nigerian security forces are fighting suspected Boko Haram terrorists.

Boko Haram Facts

  • Based in the northeastern city of Maiduguri
  • Began in 2002 as a non-violent Islamist splinter group
  • Launched uprising in 2009; leader was subsequently killed in police custody
  • Has killed hundreds in bombings and shootings since 2010
  • Boko Haram translates to "Western education is sinful"
  • Wants Nigeria to adopt strict Islamic law
  • Says it will kidnap women and children as part of its campaign
  • Has taken over parts of northeastern Nigeria
Nigeria's Joint Task Force, or JTF, says it killed 24 Boko Haram members during a clash in the city of Maiduguri late Monday and recovered an assortment of weapons. A statement said the militants had been using civilian homes to attack JTF personnel.

Witnesses have accused the JTF of committing human rights abuses in its fight against Boko Haram. Last week, the force denied reports that soldiers killed at least 30 people and burned shops and houses in Maiduguri in revenge for a bombing.

Human Rights Watch said in a report last week that both sides may be responsible for crimes against humanity.

Boko Haram is blamed for killing more than 1,500 people since 2009 in bombings and shootings, mainly against police, government officials and churches.

Much about the group remains unclear, but the militants are believed to want a strict form of Islamic law applied across northern Nigeria.

Some information for this report provided by AFP.