MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) - Gunfire and explosions echoed Monday through Maiduguri city in northeast Nigeria as fighting between soldiers and members of a radical Islamist sect killed at least two civilians, authorities and witnesses said.
The explosions occurred in a popular market in Maiduguri, the spiritual home of the sect known as Boko Haram. A military spokesman said soldiers had killed eight members of the sect in the fighting. Traders at the market, who requested anonymity out of fear of reprisals, said they feared civilians had been killed in the fighting.
A group of young men attacked the market Monday, causing traders to flee as they heard an explosion, they said. Soldiers moved into the area shortly after, starting a gun battle with sect members, said Lt. Col. Hassan Ifeji Mohammed, a military spokesman.
At least eight suspected sect members died in the fighting, Mohammed said, while three civilians were shot and wounded in the gun battle. However, an official at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital who spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear of contradicting the military said the facility received the corpses of two civilians Monday afternoon killed in the fighting.
Traders at the market said they believe the attack was a reprisal as a suspected gunman from the sect came into the market days earlier and was apprehended and later killed.