Two fighters from the Islamist group Boko Haram were killed in a shootout Monday that reveals mounting frustration among residents of northern Nigeria with the group's campaign of violence.
The two came into the Sheka neighborhood of Kano on a motorcycle, shooting bullets into the air, according to an eyewitness who requested anonymity for safety reasons. "People in the area summoned courage and nabbed them. As they were planning to hand them over to the police, gunmen came from nowhere and shot them instantly to death," the witness said.
Lt. Ikedichi Iweha, a spokesman for Nigerian security forces in Kano, said the executioners were also Boko Haram members who feared their apprehended colleagues would reveal too much information if handed to police. He commended the local residents who apprehended the fighters, calling them "patriotic citizens in the area who were fed up with the activities of the sect members."
What is Nigeria's Boko Haram? 5 things to know
Boko Haram has been blamed for killing more than 1,000 people since it began its quest in 2009 to overthrow the secular government of Nigeria. The group, whose name means "Western education is a sin," wants to apply Islamic sharia law across Nigeria, not just in the predominantly Muslim north but the Christian south as well.
The group has stepped up its terror attacks on Christians, government workers, and civilians in recent months, challenging the Nigerian government to step up its efforts to safeguard the population. In the meantime, there are signs, like today's incident, that residents in the predominantly Muslim north are frustrated with Boko Haram's tactics.
"We are seriously frustrated with their activities," says Ahmed Isah, an analyst in Nigeria's north. "The activities of the group [are] seriously disheartening. It's also damaging the image of the Islamic [faithful]. Islam preaches peace and this extremist fight is something which is completely inhuman and against Islamic principles."
All told, four people were killed around Kano Monday in violence tied to Boko Haram. In another incident, two women were killed by stray bullets during a confrontation between suspected Boko Haram members and Nigerian security forces.