Several military crackdowns and a state of emergency have failed to stop a rising tide of violence in northern Nigeria. A spate of bomb attacks on churches in the city of Kaduna last week triggered wider sectarian violence.
“The policemen gallantly repelled the attack … During the gun duel in Dala Division, 10 of the extremists were killed,” he said, adding that motor vehicles and explosives belonging to the militants had been recovered.
Five insurgents were killed in a separate gun battle at Jakara police barracks, he added, while two more had been killed after their group attacked a mobile police unit. Three suspected insurgents had also been captured, he said.
Separately, Muhammad Abubakar, police commissioner for Kaduna state, which erupted into violence that killed more than 90 people last week after three churches were bombed, said 14 suspected sect members had been arrested.
Boko Haram, which wants to carve out an Islamic state in Nigeria – whose inhabitants are split 50-50 among Muslims and Christians – was not available for comment and there was no way to independently verify the police report.
The killing and capture of some top Islamists may have weakened the sect in the past few months, though they have shown surprising resilience and an ability to spread their insurgency across much of the north.
President Jonathan said on Sunday he had sacked his defence minister and national security adviser because the government needed new anti-terrorism tactics – a sign he may be realising how serious the security threat to Africa’s top energy producer is.
The authorities have captured hundreds of suspected militants, but haven’t always managed to keep them locked up. Boko Haram fighters stormed a prison in their northeastern heartland on Sunday, freeing 40 inmates.