By Jennifer M. Haralambides
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa
MAIDUGURI, Nigeria – The leader of the Islamic fundamentalist group Boko Haram, Mohammed Yusuf, was killed yesterday in a shoot-out with security forces.
“He has been killed. You can come and see his body at the state police command headquarters,” said Isa Azare, spokesman for the Maiduguri police command. It was reported that Yusuf’s bullet-riddled body was shown to journalists by police and displayed on state television shortly after his death.
Human rights activists have begun to allege that Yusuf had been executed and warned of revenge attacks, although police say that he died in a shoot-out.
The Nigerian information minister, Dora Akunyili, said that the Nigerian government does not “condone extrajudicial killings,” but then added, “what’s important is that he has been taken out of the way, to stop him [from] using people to cause mayhem.”
Last week during security driven raids, in search of the radical leader, it was rumored that Yusuf had fled town and was heading either to Chad or Cameroon. However, he was finally taken into custody yesterday afternoon. The attack resulted in heavy casualties, mostly on the side of the fundamentalists. Police officials report that he was hiding in a goat pen at his parents-in-law’s house.
Governor Ali Modu Sheriff declared the capture of Yusuf and other remaining members of the sect to be a victory. He also promised to come up with a bill to regulate religious sermons within the state. Until such governmental action is implimented, the military will begin what they call “show-of-force” in Borno, Bauchi, Kano, Katsina, and Yobe to assure the civilian population of their preparedness to curtail any activities of the Boko Haram.
The Boko Haram have been in existence as far back as 1995, but have existed under many different names. This radical Islamist sect is commonly referred to as the “Nigerian Taliban.”
Al Jazeera – Nigeria’s Boko Haram Cheif ‘Killed‘ – 31 July 2009
BBC – Nigeria Row Over Militant Killing – 31 July 2009
Reuters – Hundreds of Bodies in Streets After Nigeria Unrest – 31 July 2009
This Day – Boko Haram Leader Killed – 31 July 2009
Times Online – Radical Islamic Leader Mohammed Yusuf Shot Dead By Nigerian Security Forces – 31 July 2009
Impunity Watch – Over 100 Civilians Freed From Captivity in Nigeria – 29 July 2009