Death toll from Sunday violence in north Nigeria climbs to 24

A military raid, a shootout and an attack on police guarding a church in separate incidents in northern Nigeria left 24 dead, the latest violence in the restive region, officials said Monday.

The deadliest of the incidents occurred in the northeastern city of Maiduguri, when soldiers raided an alleged hideout of members of Islamist extremist group Boko Haram, leaving 21 people dead.

A military commander said those killed included 20 suspected Boko Haram members and one soldier. A purported spokesman for the Islamists said none

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of their members died and that civilians were the victims.

In Damaturu, also in the northeast, a military and police task force killed two suspected members of Boko Haram in a shootout and arrested more than 30 others, police said Monday.

“A joint military and police patrol team in Bindigari area of Damaturu came under gun attack on Sunday from suspected members of Boko Haram. Two of the gunmen were killed in a shootout,” police spokesman Toyin Gbadegesin said.

“They tried to ambush the patrol team but the security operatives suppressed them. More than 30 other suspected members of the sect were arrested.”

Residents said the shootout lasted more than five hours and that soldiers went door-to-door in search of the gunmen.

In Gombe, gunmen fired shots at a Roman Catholic church during mass, killing a policeman on guard and wounding his colleague before fleeing, parish priest William Ochai told AFP on Monday.

Boko Haram has been blamed for the deaths of more than 1,400 people since 2010 in attacks across northern and central Nigeria, according to a toll compiled by Human Rights Watch.

The US State Department in June designated the group’s suspected leader and two other Nigerian militants as global terrorists.