Gunmen kill four in Nigeria police station attack

KADUNA, Nigeria Thu Jan 3, 2013 8:26am EST

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KADUNA, Nigeria (Reuters) - Gunmen have killed four people and burned down a police station in northeast Adamawa state, the police said on Thursday, the latest such attack in a region where Islamist sect Boko Haram has its stronghold.

A soldier, a policeman, a civilian and her grandchild were killed by unknown gunmen and a local government office was destroyed in the town of Song, near the border with Cameroon, Adamawa police spokesman Mohammed Ibrahim told Reuters. He said it happened around midnight on Wednesday.

At least 37 people have now died in Nigeria's northeast in the last 10 days alone in violence presumed to be linked to Islamist militancy, the biggest threat to stability in Africa's main oil exporter.

There was a similar attack in another town in Adamawa last week when police said one person was killed, although local media reports, quoting eye-witnesses, said 20 died.

Authorities in the northeast have in the past played down their own casualties in fighting with Boko Haram.

The sect, which is loosely based on the Afghan Taliban, killed hundreds last year in a campaign to impose sharia, or Islamic law. Nigeria's more than 160 million people are split roughly equally between Christians and Muslims.

Boko Haram's violence remains focused mostly on security forces in the northeast, although its attacks have spread across the north and to the capital Abuja.

President Goodluck Jonathan has been unable to stop the rebellion despite waves of military offensives in the northeast and other parts of northern and central Nigeria where Boko Haram has a strong presence.

Jonathan said this week that most suspects behind major bombings in Nigeria had been arrested and attacks by what he called "terrorists" would be over soon.

Around 3,000 people have been killed in violence linked to Boko Haram since the group's uprising in 2009, human rights groups say.

(Reporting by Isaac Abrak; Writing by Joe Brock; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)

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