Nigerian troops raid hideout over church attacks
Nigerian troops killed a suspected Boko Haram militant Tuesday during a pre-dawn raid in the city of Kano over weekend attacks against church services that left around 20 people dead.
A military task force stormed a two-bedroom bungalow in the troubled northern city's Bubbugaje district, two days after attackers armed with bombs and guns sowed carnage among churchgoers on Kano's Bayero university campus.
Security sources told an AFP reporter at the scene that one suspected Islamist was killed when a shootout erupted during the raid while another managed to escape.
Brigadier-General Iliasu Isa Abba said the raid was part of the search for the perpetrators of Sunday's attacks, the latest violence against Christians blamed on Boko Haram's Islamists.
"This operation has links with what happened in Bayero university. The same set of people are part of the gang," he said.
Soldiers at the scene of the raid also arrested three women, including a mother and a three-year-old girl, while security agents cordoned off the building. Three armoured carriers and a bulldozer were stationed in the area.
Items recovered included improvised explosive devices, an assault rifle, ammunition, knives, two laptops, a motorcycle and fertilisers.
A bank deposit slip and a leaflet purportedly containing a message by the Boko Haram leader were also found in the building.
One of the detained women told AFP she was married to a member of the group.
"I was married to my husband a year ago. We met in Wudil. I only came to know that he was a member of Boko Haram recently. He managed to escape during the raid this morning," the 18-year-old woman said.
A spokesman for the soldiers that carried out the raid told AFP that the fleeing suspect had been arrested.
"We have arrested the suspect that fled. He was fished out around that area after using a woman as shield," Lieutenant Iweha Ikedichi told AFP.
Top security chiefs in Kano, including the military commander, police commissioner and head of the state security service, visited the scene and ordered that the partly damaged building be pulled down.
They also vowed further clampdown on Islamists as well as stiffer sanctions against property owners who rent out to unknown individuals.
"Wherever we find weapons of this nature that can be used to kill innocent people, certainly we are going to bring down the property," Abba told reporters.
"This will serve as a deterrent to landlords that rent out their properties to unknown persons that could turn out to be terrorists," he said.
Abba said the targeted suspects were also wanted over January 20 attacks in Kano, the largest city in Nigeria's mainly Muslim north, when coordinated bombings and shootings left 185 dead, Boko Haram's deadliest attack yet.
The group has also been blamed for last week's bomb attacks at newspaper offices in the capital Abuja and the northern city of Kaduna that left at least nine people dead.
Addressing workers during the May Day celebration in Abuja Tuesday, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) President Abdulwahed Omar blamed social ills for the Boko Haram insurgency.
"Since the last May Day, the escalation of the Boko Haram threat has manifested in several bombings and attacks across the country, resulting in the loss of hundreds of lives," he said.
"That the terrorist ideologues are able to recruit willing and daring foot soldiers with ease lies deeply rooted in the decaying social conditions in our nation: joblessness, hunger, poverty, lack of electricity, illiteracy and lack of access to education," he said.
"All these, among other things, are creating a social quagmire among our youths, thus making them easy prey. Government policies need to be underscored and guided by the acceptance that its citizens have a right to work, a right to food, a right to education, right to electricity," he said.
"Only in this way will we be able to tackle the fundamental crisis of insecurity in our country," he added.
Boko Haram's increasingly bloody insurgency has left more than 1,000 people dead since mid-2009.
Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation and largest oil producer, is roughly divided between a mainly Muslim north and predominately Christian south.
Boko Haram initially claimed to be fighting for the creation of an Islamic state in Nigeria's north, but its demands and structure have become less clear in recent months.