MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) — Suspected gunmen from a radical Islamist sect stormed into the home Tuesday of the top customs official in northeast Nigeria, shooting the man dead only weeks after he took over the post, officials said. Another shooting blamed on the sect killed four Christians in the region.
Customs controller Adamu Ahmadu had enforced strict new rules in the northeast that has seen trucks halted from crossing the border from neighboring Chad — one country where analysts and officials believe leaders of the radical sect known as Boko Haram now hide. Customs officials also had been intercepting arms in the region, likely drawing the sect's rage, officials said.
The attack on Ahmadu happened Tuesday night in Potiskum in Yobe state, local police commissioner Tanko Lawan said. Six suspected gunmen from the sect invaded Ahmadu's home and shot him along with others nearby. Lawan and other officials did not immediately know if anyone else died in the shooting.
Ahmadu's killing came as suspected Boko Haram gunmen also killed four Christians of Nigeria's Igbo ethnicity in Maiduguri city, the sect's spiritual home, Borno state police spokesman Samuel Tizhe said.
Attacks against Igbos, who live across the north and largely run shops, have become increasingly common as the sect warned it would specifically begin targeting Christians earlier this year as part of its fight against Nigeria's weak central government.
Police also blamed the sect for shooting to death a Muslim cleric in Maiduguri on Monday. The sect previously has killed Muslim leaders who speak out against it.
The sect, which speaks to journalists in teleconferences, could not be immediately reached for comment Tuesday night.
Boko Haram has put up an increasingly bloody sectarian fight against weak Nigeria's central government over unavenged Muslim killings in the country, the desire to see Islamic law enacted and to free its detained members.
The sect is blamed for killing more than 300 people this year alone. In January, it launched a coordinated attack on the northern city of Kano that killed at least 185 people. It also claimed responsibility for the August suicide car bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Nigeria's capital that killed at least 25 people and wounded more than 100 others.
Also Tuesday, police said 16 people were killed in central Benue state in an attack by Hausa Fulani herdsmen on Tiv villages. Benue state police spokesman Ejike Alaribe said the Hausa Fulani herdsmen of Nigeria's Muslim north burned homes of the Christian Tiv. The Tiv represent one the largest of the minority ethnic groups in Nigeria, a nation of more than 160 million people and more than 250 different ethnicities.
The Tiv and the Hausa Fulani have previously fought over land in Benue. In December, authorities said fighting between the two groups displaced some roughly 5,000 people in Benue.
Associated Press writer Yinka Ibukun in Lagos, Nigeria contributed to this report.