By Lawani Mukairu, with agency reports & AbdulSalam Muhammad
DAMATURU â€” ABOUT 43 members of Boko Haram, the radical anti-western education Islamic sect were killed in a gun duel with security forces in Yobe state, yesterday, as a manhunt for the sect’s leaders intensifies.
Some 180 women and children were also freed in Bauchi while Kano State government agency has demolished the sect leaderâ€™s house and the mosque attached to it in Kano.
A police source said the killings happened in Hawan Malka, an area on the outskirts of Potiskum, Yobeâ€™s second largest city.
The clash came as Nigerian soldiers patrolled the northern city of Maiduguri yesterday searching for the remaining members of Boko Haram. Nearly 300 people have been killed since the crackdown, which included the shelling of a compound believed to be home to sect leader Mohammed Yusuf.
The attack destroyed buildings including a small mosque, although the preacherâ€™s whereabouts remain unknown. Yusufâ€™s supporters – armed with machetes, knives, home-made rifles and petrol bombs – have attacked churches, police stations, prisons and government buildings in parts of the mostly Muslim north.
Police in Maiduguri have said 90 rioters have been killed, as well as eight police officers, three prison officials and two soldiers.
Police in Sokoto state in the north west also arrested five members of Boko Haram â€” which means â€˜Western education is a sinâ€™ â€” including former university lecturer Kadiru Atiku, believed to be the groupâ€™s local leader.
Women, children freed in Maiduguri
The Borno State Police Command has rescued 180 women and children allegedly abducted in Bauchi by members of the Muhammed Yusuf-led Islamic sect, â€œBoko Haramâ€.
The commandâ€™s Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Malam Isa Azare (ASP), said in Maiduguri on yesterday that the women and children were deceived by their husbands and teachers that they were in Maiduguri to attend a religious function.
He said the command had already contacted the Bauchi State Government to arrange for their transportation back to Bauchi.
â€œThe Bauchi State Government has agreed to provide necessary logistics to transport and re-unite the affected women and children with their relations back home,â€ he said.
Azare also announced the arrest of the â€œDeputy Leaderâ€™â€™ of the sect, Bukar Shikwa, in Maiduguri.
He said the police and other security agencies had mounted a manhunt for the sect Leader, Muhammed Yusuf.
Azare added that Yusufâ€™s residence in Maiduguri was still being bombarded by joint security operatives.
â€œâ€˜The operation is still ongoing, and the number of persons killed or injured cannot be ascertained yet. But many people have been killed in the shoot- out,â€™â€™ he said.
The sect, known as â€œBoko Haram,â€ says it is waging war against all forms of western education and its establishments.
Kano demolishes sect leader’s house
Officials of the Kano Urban Planning and Development backed by a unit of heavily armed policemen, yesterday, demolished the residence and mosque of Kano sect leader of Boko Haram, Salisu Al-Amin in Wudil on the order of the state government.
The mosque attached to the residence of the notorious sect leader in Sabon Gari Wudil was cordoned off by the security agents before the officials of the Urban Development Agency rolled in their bulldozers at 4.00pm.
Addressing newsmen before the demolition, Managing Director of the Urban Development Agency, Hassan Naâ€™Abba, explained that the area where the structure stood was not earmarked for either â€˜residential or religious purposesâ€™.
The building is an illegal structure put up in an area not earmarked for residential and religious purposes and it has to give way on the order of the state Governmentâ€, Hassan Naâ€™Abba explained.
Vanguard learnt that families of the sect leader had already fled before the arrival of the bulldozers from the state capital, while the sect leader is still at large.
The Police Public Relations Officer told newsmen that a massive manhunt has been launched to track him down.