Boko Haram kill seven civilians in north Nigeria: government

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria Thu Apr 19, 2012 7:05pm EDT

Part of a car used for detonating a bomb is seen at the scene of a blast in Nigeria's northern city of Kaduna April 8, 2012 in this file photo. REUTERS/Stringer

Part of a car used for detonating a bomb is seen at the scene of a blast in Nigeria's northern city of Kaduna April 8, 2012 in this file photo.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

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MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (Reuters) - Gunmen from radical Islamist sect Boko Haram have killed at least seven civilians in the past 24 hours in a spate of attacks in northern Nigeria, police said on Thursday.

Boko Haram, which wants to carve an Islamic state out of Africa's most populous nation split evenly between Muslims and Christians, has killed hundreds in almost daily gun and bomb attacks this year.

"A water vendor and a customs officer were killed in Abbaganaram and Kasuwan custom areas on Wednesday in the evening, while 5 bakers were killed at the Kasmi Bakery on Thursday," Samuel Tizhe, spokesman for police in the sect's northeastern heartland of Maiduguri, said.

A military offensive against Boko Haram seems to have weakened the sect in the past few weeks, making it less capable of carrying out high-profile attacks with large casualty tolls, but it remains a major security headache for President Goodluck Jonathan's administration.

A bomb near a church in northern city Kaduna on Easter Sunday killed more than 30 people.

This week, the U.S. embassy in Nigeria warned its citizens that the group might be planning attacks on the capital Abuja, which Nigerian authorities quickly dismissed as alarmist.

The group has struck the capital a few times, but its attacks are mostly concentrated in the largely Muslim north.

(Reporting by Ibrahim Mshelizza; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Myra MacDonald)

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