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Suspected Islamists torch police station in Nigeria

Suspected Islamists have attacked and torched a police station in northern Nigeria, police said today, the latest incident raising alarm over a sect that launched an uprising last year.

world Updated: Oct 12, 2010 23:36 IST

Suspected Islamists have attacked and torched a police station in northern Nigeria, police said today, the latest incident raising alarm over a sect that launched an uprising last year.

"There was an overnight attack on Gamboru police station by unknown gunmen which resulted in the burning down of the police station," a senior police officer said on condition of anonymity.

The station is in Maiduguri, the city at the centre of the uprising last year. The source later specified that the attack occurred just before 9:00 pm (local time) yesterday.

"Two policemen have been injured in the shootout and are receiving treatment in hospital. The whereabouts of two others are still unknown."

The source added that "they used homemade grenades to burn down the police station" and that the Islamist sect, known as Boko Haram, was suspected.

National police spokesman Emmanuel Ojukwu said he had been told of the attack and that explosives had been used.

Asked whether the Islamist sect was involved, he said, "that is suspected, but we are not limiting it to them."

He could not confirm the injuries, saying he was still gathering information on the incident.

The attack comes after a series of shootings by motorcycle-riding gunmen in northern Nigeria blamed on Boko Haram. Police and other prominent community members have been among the victims.

On Saturday, suspected sect members shot dead an outspoken cleric in the heart of Maiduguri along with one of his students.

The well-known Wahabi cleric ran a weekly Islamic programme on Borno state-run radio in which he criticised Boko Haram's extremism.

Suspected sect members also attacked a prison last month in Bauchi, also in Nigeria's north, using homemade bombs and machine guns, freeing more than 700 inmates. Around 100 alleged Boko Haram members were among those who escaped.

The recent attacks have occurred with elections set for early next year and have been an ominous sign in a country where ballots have often been tainted by violence.