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Nigeria Says 9 Killed in Clash Between Security, Boko Haram

Nigerian officials say nine suspected members of militant group Boko Haram were killed Friday in a gunbattle with security agents.

The state security force says several other people were wounded in the early morning clash, which happened in the capital, Abuja, at an unfinished home in a community for Nigerian lawmakers.

Spokeswoman Marilyn Ogar says two captured Boko Haram members had told agents about a buried stash of weapons at the site.

"And so a joint security team had to proceed to recover the arms. So when they got here, they came under attack, and of course they had to respond back."

Ogar told reporters that 12 Boko Haram suspects were arrested.

Two self-professed Boko Haram members were brought in front of reporters and admitted to belonging to the group.

Residents of the community told VOA they doubted the young men were Boko Haram members, saying they were paying rent to stay in the house.

The violence followed a major attack in Nigeria's Borno state blamed on the Islamist militant group.

Nigerian officials say the militants killed at least 87 people in and around the town of Benisheik, and that scores of homes and buildings were burned.

Local witnesses told VOA that the Boko Haram fighters were better armed than soldiers who tried to fight them, and that the militants looted the town, taking away food and numerous vehicles.

The group says it is fighting to impose a strict form of Islamic law on Nigeria's Muslim-majority north. The militants have been blamed for thousands of deaths since launching an insurgency against the government in 2009.

Borno is one of three northeastern states where President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency and deployed additional troops in May to fight Boko Haram. Rights groups have criticized the military for heavy-handed operations they say have led to hundreds more deaths.

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