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Nigerian troops uncover weapons cache

by Staff Writers
Kano, Nigeria (AFP) Feb 20, 2011
Troops in an area of Nigeria hit by repeated attacks blamed on Islamists have killed three gunmen in a shootout and uncovered a cache of weapons in separate incidents, the military said Sunday.

Both the shootout and the discovery of the weapons, which included rocket-propelled grenades and explosives, occurred Saturday in northeastern Nigeria, where the Islamist sect known as Boko Haram is based.

"Three gunmen driving towards Maiduguri from the border town of Gamboru Ngala opened fire on a military patrol team which responded and a shootout followed in which all the three gunmen were killed," Brigadier-General Tanko Yusuf Gaya said.

Three Kalashnikov rifles were found on the gunmen, Gaya said.

He declined to say whether the gunmen were members of Boko Haram, saying an investigation would determine their identity.

Separately, a tip-off from residents led soldiers to locate a cache of weapons in a car in a village near where the shootout occurred, Gaya said.

The weapons included a machine gun, rocket-propelled grenades, Kalashnikov rifles, explosives, hand grenades and a large quantity of ammunition, the army chief said.

"We are yet to ascertain the source of the weapons, their destination or what they were intended for," Gaya said, adding he believed they had been abandoned because the suspects wanted to avoid being arrested.

The sect launched an uprising in 2009 put down by a brutal military assault that left hundreds dead.

It has been blamed for a series of attacks and hit-and-run shootings in northern Nigeria in recent months that have left dozens dead.

Police say some of the killings may have been politically related ahead of April elections.

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