The brother of one of Nigeria’s most important Islamic leaders has been shot dead by suspected members of a radical sect in the remote northeastern city of Maiduguri, said police.
Abba Anas Umar, the younger brother of the Shehu of Borno, the leader of one of West Africa’s oldest Islamic communities, was killed in front of his house in the Gangamari district late on Monday, officials said.
“He was shot dead by suspected Boko Haram members,” Zanna Laisu, secretary to the Borno Emirate Council, told Reuters.
Boko Haram is a radical Islamist sect which has been carrying out almost daily killings and fire bombings of police stations and government buildings in recent months.
The persistent insecurity in one of Nigeria’s poorest regions — near its northeastern borders with Cameroon, Chad and Niger on the southern edge of the Sahara — risks becoming a major headache for President Goodluck Jonathan.
Several bombs went off in the hours after Jonathan was sworn in following last month’s elections on Sunday, killing at least 16 people. There has been no claim of responsibility.
Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is sinful”, wants sharia (Islamic law) more widely applied across Nigeria but its views are not espoused by most of the country’s Muslim population, the largest in sub-Saharan Africa.
It is unclear how many followers the group has but poverty, unemployment and a lack of education in the far northeast have enabled its leaders to build a cult-like following which is as much violently anti-establishment as fervently religious.
Sect members launched an uprising in 2009, attacking government buildings and leading to days of gun battles with the security forces in which as many as 800 people were killed.