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New ‘Taleban’ clashes in Nigeria

Jan. 7, 2004 • Thursday January 8, 2004

Fighting has continued in northern Nigeria, involving a radical Islamic movement that calls itself the Taleban.

The authorities had said they had crushed the uprising in Yobe State over the weekend but some Taleban youths fled to next-door Borno State.

Local people confronted the Islamists, leading to clashes on Monday, in which seven Taleban and one local man died.

Last week, the group stormed police stations, saying they wanted to set up an Islamic state in Nigeria.

The uprising began early last week when militants attacked police stations in a number of towns, burned buildings and stole large quantities of weapons

At one state building they occupied, the militants pulled down the Nigerian flag and raised that of Afghanistan.

The authorities had said they had crushed the insurgency after hundreds of Nigerian soldiers were sent to a military camp run by the Taleban group near the border with Niger.

‘Minimal support’

The BBC’s Mato Adamu in northern Nigeria says that the group’s leader is known as Mullah Omar, after the deposed leader of Afghanistan.

He has spoken to some of the fighters who were arrested in Niger, who deny that the group received any foreign support.

Twelve states in the Muslim-dominated north of the country, including Yobe and Borno, have introduced Islamic Sharia law since the end of military rule in 1999.

More than 10,000 people have died in religious and ethnic clashes since then.

Our correspondent says that the group has minimal support even among Muslims and the clashes have not led to increased tensions with the large Christian minority in the area.

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