Abuja: Three suspected militants of Nigeria's radical group Boko Haram were killed after a long gunbattle with a military unit, that claimed to have foiled a fresh suicide attack in the restive northern region.
Gunshots and explosions were heard across Damaturu city as operatives of Nigerian military's Joint Task Force attacked the suspected militants after getting information that they were planning suicide attacks in the city.
"A female member of Boko Haram was captured by the police and three others were shot dead," said deputy spokesman of Yobe state police command, Gbadegesin Toyin.
Residents said fighting between Boko Haram militants and the military paralysed activities for hours as they stayed indoors with the fear that stray bullets could hit anybody.
"Sounds of gunshots and explosives pervaded the entire Nyanya area of the city making it appear like a war situation," Ibrahim Abubakar, a resident of the city said.
After a recent battle within the city that led to the death of no fewer than 40 persons, the government imposed a 24-hour curfew which was later relaxed on Monday.
Yobe is located near Maiduguri city in Borno state where the sect has its headquarters.
Some observers say the sect actually started in Yobe state but later relocated its headquarters to Borno.
Nigerian government statistics show that the two states are the most backward in education and standard of living.
Boko Haram means 'western education is sin' and the sect wants to impose an Islamic Sharia government in Nigeria's north, but observers say that Western educated elite has failed to provide for their basic needs and hence the sect questions the usefulness of the system.
Boko Haram militants have carried out bombings, shootings and suicide attacks that have seen hundreds of people killed since 2009 when they started their uprising.
First Published: Sunday, July 01, 2012, 23:02