Bomb kills 3 at northern Nigerian police base


A bomb explosion killed at least three people at a police base in northern Nigeria, authorities said, a region plagued by attacks by a radical Islamist sect.

Vehicles were set ablaze and several wounded were rushed to hospital when the bomb tore through the 34th Mobile Police Force Squadron base on Kwami Road, Gombe state, witnesses said.

Gombe Police Commissioner G.E. Orubebe said it was not clear who was behind the attack but it bore the hallmarks of similar strikes carried out by Boko Haram, a sect whose home base is in neighbouring state of Borno, Reuters reports.

Boko Haram has been blamed for near daily killings in and around Maiduguri, the capital of Borno, which sits in the remote, dusty northeast where Africa’s most populous nation borders Niger, Cameroon and Chad.

Suspected members of the group, which wants Islamic sharia law more widely applied across Nigeria, killed a policeman in a gunfight in Maiduguri on Friday, police officials said.

The sect, whose name means “Western education is sinful,” has spread its threat across the north and heightened the sophistication of its attacks in recent months. Foreign and Nigerian officials believe the sect has been strengthening ties with al Qaeda’s North African wing.

Boko Haram claimed responsibility for Nigeria’s first known suicide bombing in August, when a car full of explosives was rammed into U.N. headquarters in the capital Abuja, tearing off the side of the building and killing 23 people.

In separate violence, a soldier was hacked to death on Sunday by unknown people near the city of Jos, the capital of Plateau state in Nigeria’s central “Middle Belt,” where the mostly Muslim north meets the largely Christian south.

The tensions in Plateau date back decades and are rooted in disputes over indigenous rights, fierce competition for local political power and control of fertile farmlands.

More than 70 people were killed last month in Plateau when violence between Muslim and Christian youths flared up. A crackdown led by senior military officials has calmed the region in recent weeks.

Nigeria’s population of more than 140 million are split roughly equally between Christians and Muslims and more than 200 ethnic groups live side-by-side largely peacefully.