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Gunmen burn police station, school in Yobe

KANO (AFP) – Gunmen armed with explosives attacked a police station, a primary school and two cellphone towers in a town in Fika, Damaturu on Sunday, setting them ablaze, JTF and residents said.

“We heard that there were some attacks in Fika by suspected Boko Haram terrorists. They attacked two telecommunication masts, a police station and a primary school,” said Lazarus Eli, JTF spokesman in Yobe State.

A resident said he had seen the bodies of two policemen being brought out of the razed police station, but Eli said he could not immediately confirm any casualties.

Eli said troops had deployed to the town to contain the violence. Fika lies some 170 kilometres (110 miles) from Damaturu, the capital of Yobe State and a hotbed of Islamist extremist group Boko Haram.

Residents said the gunmen attacked their targets with explosives before dawn at around 4:30 am.

“They threw explosives and fired gunshots at their targets, setting them ablaze, and fled after the attack,” Tanimu Mani told AFP.

“Soldiers who arrived in the town went inside the burnt police station and brought out the bodies of two policemen killed in the attack,” he said.

Another resident, student Hassan Gaji, said he had heard blasts and gunshots during early morning prayers.

“They were shooting seriously for about one hour,” he said, adding that the town had been taken over by police and soldiers.

He said the attackers had entered Fika on the road leading from Potiskum to the north “and went straight to the police station, bombed it and proceeded to the primary school in the town”.

A police source said the attackers looted the armoury before setting the police station ablaze.

“They emptied the armoury during the attack and took away some 20 guns and some rounds of ammunition,” the officer, who did not want to be named, told AFP.

Witnesses said panicked residents were fleeing Fika for nearby Potiskum on Sunday following the attack.

“A lot of people are now leaving for Potiskum which has been relatively calm in recent weeks,” the witness said.

Some towns in Yobe state, including Damaturu, Potiskum and Fika have been hard hit by deadly attacks by Boko Haram in recent months, leaving hundreds of people dead and prompting a heavy army deployment.

Violence linked to the Boko Haram insurgency is believed to have left more than 2,800 people dead since 2009, including killings by the security forces.

Boko Haram has claimed to be seeking an Islamic state in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and largest oil producer, although its demands have repeatedly shifted.

The sect has targeted government and security figures, as well as Christians in churches and even mosques, prominent Muslim clerics and scholars in the country, which is divided between a mainly Muslim north and predominantly Christian south.

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