Nigeria: Leader of Islamist sect killed in custody


The police commander of Borno state announced yesterday on state radio that Mohammed Yusuf, the leader of the sect some call the Nigerian Taliban, has "died in police custody."

He gave no further explanation, but the state governor's spokesman Usman Ciroma told The Associated Press: "I saw his body at police headquarters. I believe he was shot while he was trying to escape."

Yusuf's death could provoke more violence, though his followers in the Boko Haram sect may be in disarray.

Troops shelled his compound in the northern city of Maiduguri on Wednesday, but Yusuf, 39, managed to escape with about 300 followers, some of them armed. His deputy, Bukar Shekau, was killed in the attack, according to Army commander Maj Gen Saleh Maina.

Troops killed about 100 militants by an AP reporter's count, half of them inside the sect's mosque. Soldiers then launched a manhunt, and Yusuf was reportedly found in a goat's pen at the home of his in-laws.

Leading Nigerian rights group accuse security forces of killing bystanders and other civilians.

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