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August 1, 2009

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Officials collect Nigeria bodies

NIGERIAN authorities collected hundreds of bodies from the streets of the northern city of Maiduguri yesterday following days of clashes with members of a radical Islamic sect.

State government and health ministry officials piled the corpses, some of them swollen after lying in the streets for days, onto open trucks as police and soldiers patrolled.

"As of yesterday we had more than 200 dead bodies," a Red Cross official said.

The toll in Maiduguri brings to at least 300, the number of people killed in violence that erupted in northern Nigeria since Sunday.

The authorities are hoping the killing of sect leader Mohammed Yusuf, whose Boko Haram movement wants a wider adoption of sharia (Islamic law), will bring an end to the six-day uprising by his followers.

Yusuf, 39, was shot dead while in police detention late on Thursday. Officials have said he died in a shootout while trying to escape but rights groups have condemned what appeared to have been an execution-style killing.


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