Fear pervades the northeastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri (pictured), the heart of an Islamist insurgency that has killed hundreds. In the latest attack, at least 15 people were killed by gunmen who tied up men, women and children before slitting their throats. (AFP)
Islamist sect gunmen slit throats and kill at least 15 Boko Haram suspected for the attacks

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria, Dec 29, (Agencies): Gunmen suspected to belong to a radical Islamist sect attacked a village in northeast Nigeria, tying up men, women and children before slitting their throats, killing at least 15 in the troubled region’s latest attack, witnesses said Saturday.
The assault happened early Friday morning in the village of Musari on the outskirts of Maiduguri, the city where the sect known as Boko Haram first launched its guerrilla campaign of shootings and car bombings against Nigeria’s weak central government. The gunmen shouted religious slogans and later ordered those there to be gathered up into a group, said Mshelia Inusa, a primary school teacher in the village.
“We heard some people chanting, ‘God is great, God is great’ amid sounds of banging on doors of houses at about 1 am,” the teacher said. “A voice was heard ordering people to be slaughtered and also voices of children were heard screaming.”
Inusa said he and others later saw corpses with their hands tied behind their backs and their throats cut.
Later Friday morning, an ambulance arrived at the State Specialists Hospital in Maiduguri, accompanied by a group of military vehicles, a security guard said. Agitated soldiers ordered people away, but the guard said he counted at least 15 bodies being brought into the facility’s morgue.
The guard spoke on condition of anonymity out of fears of angering either the military or the sect.
Lt Col Sagir Musa, a military spokesman, later issued a statement saying only seven people had been killed in the village during the attack. However, military and police officials routinely downplay casualty figures because they are under increasing pressure from their superiors to minimize the perceived effects of the ongoing attacks by Boko Haram.
Boko Haram, which speaks to journalists through conference calls at times of its choosing, could not be immediately reached for comment Saturday. However, the attack mirrored other assaults carried out by the group as it expands its operations outside of cities in the northeast into rural towns and villages, where the security presence remains light and contact with the outside world remains difficult as the sect has destroyed a number of mobile phone towers recently.
The sect, whose name means “Western education is sacrilege” in the Hausa language of Nigeria’s Muslim north, wants the nation to enact strict Shariah law and release its imprisoned members. Despite a heavy military and police presence, the sect’s adherents have continued to launch frequent attacks.
More than 780 people have been killed in Boko Haram attacks so far this year, according to an Associated Press count, making 2012 the worst year of violence attributed to the group. Boko Haram also has loose connections with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Somalia’s al-Shabab, according to Western military officials and diplomats.
And violence continued around the central Nigerian city of Jos, where ethnic, religious and political rivalries have caused mass killings in recent years. Authorities said at least seven had been killed in recent days around Christian villages in the rural plateau. Police said they were investigating the attacks.
In the first attack on Friday, gunmen opened fire and threw explosives at several targets including a police station, a prison and government offices in Maiha, a northeastern town along the border with Cameroon, leaving two dead, police said.
“Two people were killed in the attack. We lost a policeman in the attack on the police station and a civilian was also killed at the government lodge,” Adamawa state police spokesman Mohammed Ibrahim told AFP.
“The attackers burnt down the police divisional headquarters, a court, a satellite prison, a local education authority building and the government lodge,” he said, adding that the palace of the town’s traditional chief was also partially torched.
No arrests have been made, he said.
Andrew Barka, head of prisons in the state, said inmates had been released during the prison attack.
“The satellite prison in Maiha was broken into and burnt by the attackers. They freed inmates before setting the prison on fire,” he said.
Ibrahim, the police spokesman, told AFP that 35 inmates had escaped. Eleven of them were recaptured.
“We have 24 still at large,” Ibrahim said.
In a related development also on Friday, Lieutenant Colonel Sagir Musa, the military spokesman in Maiduguri, the epicentre of previous deadly attacks blamed on Boko Haram, said some gunmen killed five people in their homes outside the city.
“Information revealed that some terrorists sneaked into Musari, a village located on the outskirts of Maiduguri and secretly carried out selective killings of five people, including a serving Nigerian police traffic warden,” he said.
He said troops responded to the attack, arresting three suspects and recovering one AK-47 rifle with 10 rounds of ammunition.
No group so far has claimed responsibility for the deadly attacks.

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