Nigeria: army clashes with “Taliban”

Some 25 Islamist militants calling themselves the “Taliban” have been killed in an army offensive near the northern city of Kano, Nigeria. Militants took an area of the city after attacking a police station on April 17. Nine Islamists have been captured, as well as a quantity of arms, the army says. Authorities say the action was launched to avenge the assassination of a radical Islamic cleric shot dead April 13. The militants, numbering some 300, killed at least ten when they took the police station. The unrest adds to rising tension, with opposition parties threatening to boycott the upcoming presidential polls. Islamists have maintained a low-level insurgency in the Kano region for last few years.

Nigeria’s opposition parties are demanding the “total voiding” of the April 14 state elections in which the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has won 26 of the 33 states declared so far. An opposition statement urges Nigerians to “protest in a non-violent manner these sham elections so far held, and to resist further elections under the current structure.” The opposition is also demanding disbanding of the electoral commission, charging it is under the control of outgoing President Olusegun Obasanjo. The opposition coalition includes Vice-President Atiku Abubakar and former military head of state Muhammadu Buhari. They are regarded as the main challengers to Umaru Yar’Adua, the PDP’s presidential candidate. Many Nigerians fear further violence on April 21, when the presidential elections are scheduled. The elections should lead to Nigeria’s first transfer of power from one civilian to another. President Obasanjo is standing down after two terms in office. (BBC, April 18)

See our last post on Nigeria.