MAIDUGURI, Nigeria – Two men were killed and one child injured after suspected Islamic sect members ambushed a mosque during prayers in northeastern Nigeria in the first daytime attack by the group in a new wave of violence, a police spokesman said Friday.
Over 1,000 worshippers gathered at the Gomari Jumat mosque in Maiduguri on Friday afternoon when two men arrived by motorcycle and used Kalashnikov assault rifles to shoot and kill two men, police spokesman Lawan Abdullahi said. Stray bullets injured a child, who has been rushed to the local hospital for treatment, he said.
Abdullahi said that two prime suspects have been arrested, along with 11 others. The arrests were related to this attack and other killings in the area, he said.
Abdullahi confirmed that the men were suspected members of Boko Haram, a Muslim sect whose name means "Western education is sacrilege" in the Hausa language. Authorities accuse them of killing local leaders and policemen in recent weeks.
"These attacks and killings are taking a different dimension, as the suspects operate in broad day light in targeting and killing policemen, soldiers and innocent citizens," he said, adding that more suspects are going to be arrested as police hunt for more fleeing gunmen throughout Maiduguri.
Boko Haram has campaigned for the implementation of strict Shariah law. Nigeria, a nation of 150 million people, is divided between the Christian-dominated south and the Muslim north. A dozen states across Nigeria's north already have Shariah law in place, though the area remains under the control of secular state governments.
Boko Haram sect members rioted and attacked police stations and private homes in July 2009, sparking a violent police and military crackdown. In total, 700 people died.
The sect largely went underground after the attack, though rumors began to spread this summer that the group was rearming. In September, authorities say Boko Haram members engineered an attack on a federal prison in Bauchi that freed about 750 inmates — including imprisoned sect followers.