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Nigerian troops 'on anti-terror training abroad'

By AFP

LAGOS (AFP) - Nigerian soldiers are undergoing anti-terrorism training abroad following a recent spate of deadly gun and bomb attacks blamed on a radical Islamist sect, an army spokesman said on Thursday.

"This new type of act of terrorism is alien to Nigeria. So, some soldiers are undergoing training in anti-terrorism and allied crimes in some foreign countries to fight this menace," Ralph Isah told AFP by telephone.

He would not give details on the number of troops involved, the duration of the training nor identify the countries they were sent to.

"It is a cross-breeding of ideas. Some of these countries have more knowledge about this form of terrorism which is new to us. So, we sent the soldiers there to see and learn how they handle such a situation," Isah said.

Once they become operational, the units will "reinforce the capability of soldiers deployed in the northeast of the country, and especially to Borno State," he added.

Isah said the army also plans to train locally special crack anti-terrorism units.

The announcement came as security forces tightened their grip on restive northern Nigeria as they hunted for the perpetrators of a spate of bombings in Maiduguri, capital of Borno State, that has left at least 30 people dead since Sunday.

Although there has not yet been any claim of responsibility for the attacks, suspicion fell on the shadowy Islamist sect Boko Haram.

The sect's attacks are typically carried out by motorcycle riders who shoot and speed off or hurl home-made bombs.

Boko Haram, whose name means "Western education is a sin", is blamed for almost daily attacks targeting police, military personnel and politicians as well as community and religious leaders in parts of northeastern Borno state, especially Maiduguri.

It launched an uprising in 2009 which was brutally put down by the military in an assault that left more than 800 people dead, mainly sect members, including its leader Mohammed Yusuf.

The sect wants establishment of an Islamic state in the north and the strict application of Sharia law.

© 2011 AFP

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