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44 People Shot Dead in Nigerian Mosque

  • VOA News

Officials in Nigeria say gunmen have killed at least 44 people in an attack on a mosque in the north of the country.

The officials said men dressed in army fatigues opened fire at the mosque outside Maiduguri, the capital of Nigeria's Borno state, in an attack Sunday morning. News of the killings was first reported Monday.

Local media reports said the gunmen were suspected to Islamist militants - but there was no official identification of the attackers. The Islamist group Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for many previous attacks in northern Nigeria, including some on mosques whose clerics have spoken out against religious extremism.

Local officials also say there was another attack during the weekend in the nearby town of Ngom, in which 12 people were killed.

A new video emerged Monday by Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau. In it, he claims responsibility for several recent attacks, including in the towns of Bama, Malam Fatori and Gamboru.

Boko Haram has been blamed for thousands of deaths in bombing and shooting attacks since 2009. It is fighting to impose a strict form of Islamic law in Nigeria's majority-Muslim north and its name in the Hausa language means "Western education is sinful."

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan sent thousands of additional troops to Borno and two neighboring states in May after a surge of attacks by Boko Haram.

Rights groups have criticized the military for a heavy-handed response they say has led to hundreds more casualties.
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