Nigerian militant killed after days of violence
The head of Boko Haram, a militant Islamist movement responsible for attacks this week, was killed. But the police response has raised questions about the use of excessive force.
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Nigerian officials have confirmed that Mohammed Yusuf, the leader of the Islamist group Boko Haram, was killed Thursday by police, after a surge of violence in Nigeria this week that left hundreds dead. Human rights groups and Nigerian newspapers have raised questions about the police response to Boko Haram, which they say is marked by the use of excessive force and arbitrary killings.
Al Jazeera says there are conflicting reports on how Mr. Yusuf died. The govenment says he died during the Nigerian military's assault on Boko Haram's headquarters in the city of Maiduguri (click here for a map of the region).
"Mohammed Yusuf was killed by security forces in a shootout while trying to escape," Moses Anegbode, a police assistant inspector-general for northeastern Nigeria, told local BRTV state television. "I can confirm that he has been killed and the body is with us."
But reports circulating in Nigeria say the leader was killed in police custody after being captured unharmed, Al Jazeera says. Human Rights Watch called his death an "extrajudicial killing" and urged an investigation. The news service also reports that police may have killed people trying to flee the assault.
Nigerian security forces attacked a compound and mosque in Maiduguri after fighters from Boko Haram launched apparently co-ordinated attacks across four northern states. The complex was shelled overnight into Thursday before security forces shot many of those attempting to flee, witnesses and sources said.
Yusuf's death comes just days after members of the Boko Haram launched attacks upon police stations in three cities in northern Nigeria, leaving at least 150 dead and thousands displaced. Boko Haram, which means "Western education is prohibited," seeks the imposition of sharia, or Islamic law, in Nigeria, though The Christian Science Monitor reports that the group lacks popular support. But the Monitor writes that the group's actions indicate Nigerians' underlying frustrations with the government.