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Attacks by Islamic extremists kill 42 in Nigeria

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria — Coordinated attacks by Islamic extremists armed with heavy machine guns killed at least 42 people in northeast Nigeria, authorities said Tuesday, the latest in a string of increasingly bloody attacks threatening peace in Africa's most populous nation.

The attack struck multiple locations in the hard-hit town of Bama in Borno state, where shootings and bombings have continued unstopped since an insurgency began there in 2010. Fighters raided a federal prison during their assault as well, freeing 105 inmates, officials said.

Much of the violence has been blamed on the extremist network known as Boko Haram. That group has said it wants its imprisoned members freed and Nigeria to adopt strict sharia law.

What exactly happened in the latest attack remains unclear, though military spokesman Lt. Col. Sagir Musa said about 200 fighters in buses and pickup trucks mounted with machine guns attacked the barracks of the 202 Battalion of the beleaguered army. Musa said two soldiers died, while about 10 insurgents died. However, the military routinely downplays its casualties.

The attackers struck the federal prison, killing 14 guards there, Musa said. They also attacked and razed a police station, a police barracks, a magistrate's court and government offices, he said.

At least 22 police officers, three children and a woman were killed in those attacks, said Bama police commander Sagir Abubakar.

He said officers killed three insurgents in the fighting.

The Islamic insurgency grew out of a 2009 riot led by Boko Haram members in Maiduguri that ended in a military and police crackdown that killed 700 people.

From 2010 on, Boko Haram has engaged in hit-and-run shootings and suicide bombings, killing more than 1,500 people, according to an Associated Press count.

Attacks by Islamic extremists kill 42 in Nigeria 05/07/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 7, 2013 11:25pm]
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