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Death Toll in Nigerian Militant Attack Rises to 143


People walk past vehicles and shops burnt by Boko Haram Islamists on a street of Benisheik, on Sept. 19, 2013.

People walk past vehicles and shops burnt by Boko Haram Islamists on a street of Benisheik, on Sept. 19, 2013.

Nigerian officials say the death toll from an attack by Islamist militants earlier this week has risen to 143.

An official with the Environmental Protection Agency said authorities have been collecting corpses since the attack took place Tuesday in northeastern Borno state.

Militants believed to be from the group Boko Haram burned scores of homes and buildings in and around the town of Benisheik. Residents said the militants also pulled people from their cars to kill them.

Local witnesses said that the Boko Haram fighters were better armed than soldiers who tried to fight them, and that the militants looted the town, taking away food and numerous vehicles.

Major attacks blamed on Nigeria's Boko Haram

2009
  • July - Attacks prompt government crackdown in Bauchi and Maiduguri; 800 people killed

2010
  • December - Bombings in central Nigeria and church attacks in the northeast kill 86

2011
  • June - Attack on a bar in Maiduguri kills 25
  • August - Suicide bomber kills 23 at U.N. building in Abuja
  • November - Bombings in Damaturu and Potiskum kill 65
  • December - Christmas Day bombings across Nigeria kill 39

2012
  • January -- Gun and bomb attacks in Kano kill up to 200
  • February - Maiduguri market attack kills 30
  • June - Suicide car bombings at three churches kill 21
  • July - Attacks in Plateau state kill dozens, including two politicians at a funeral for the victims

2013
  • February - French family kidnapped in Cameroon, held hostage for two months
  • April - Fighting with troops in Baga kills up to 200; residents say troops set deadly fires
  • May - Attacks in Bama kill more than 50
  • July - Gunmen kill 30 at a school in Yobe
  • August - Gunmen kill 44 at a mosque outside Maiduguri
  • September - Gunmen kill 40 students a dorm in Yobe
  • October - Attack Yobe state capital Damaturu, clash with military in Borno state
In a separate incident on Friday, Nigerian officials said nine suspected members of Boko Haram were killed in a gunbattle with security agents in the capital, Abuja.

The state security force said several other people were wounded in the early morning clash, which happened in at an unfinished home in a community for Nigerian lawmakers.

Spokeswoman Marilyn Ogar said two captured Boko Haram members had told agents about a buried stash of weapons at the site.

"And so a joint security team had to proceed to recover the arms. So when they got here, they came under attack, and of course they had to respond back," she said.

Ogar told reporters that 12 Boko Haram suspects were arrested.

Two self-professed Boko Haram members were brought in front of reporters and admitted to belonging to the group.

Residents of the community said they doubted the young men were Boko Haram members, saying they were paying rent to stay in the house.

Boko Haram said it was fighting to impose a strict form of Islamic law on Nigeria's Muslim-majority north. The militants have been blamed for thousands of deaths since launching an insurgency against the government in 2009.

Borno is one of three northeastern states where President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency and deployed additional troops in May to fight Boko Haram. Rights groups have criticized the military for heavy-handed operations they say have led to hundreds more deaths.
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