Death toll in Nigeria shootout with Islamist militants reaches 25

KADUNA Fri Apr 26, 2013 6:01am EDT

1 of 5. A woman stands next to a burnt house in the aftermath of what Nigerian authorities said was heavy fighting between security forces and Islamist militants in Baga, a fishing town on the shores of Lake Chad, adjacent to the Chadian border, April 21, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

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KADUNA (Reuters) - Twenty-five people were killed in a clash between Nigerian security forces and suspected Islamist Boko Haram militants who robbed a bank and attacked a police station in northeastern Yobe state, police said on Friday.

The military had earlier said seven people were killed in the shootout on Thursday.

"Five policemen and 20 gunmen have been confirmed dead and over nine million Nigerian naira ($56,600) was carted away from a commercial bank," Yobe State police commissioner Sanusi Rufai said in a statement, adding that the loot had been recovered.

The Boko Haram sect and offshoots such as the al Qaeda-linked Ansaru, as well as associated criminal networks, have posed the main threat to the stability of Africa's top energy producer since a 2009 amnesty for militants in the oil-producing Niger Delta calmed violence there.

Thursday's shootout followed a major military assault on a Boko Haram hideout by allied forces from Nigeria, Chad and Niger last week that killed dozens of people and may have been one of the deadliest since the Islamists launched an uprising in 2009.

The Nigerian Red Cross is trying to check reports from locals that 187 people died in that battle. The military says the figure is inflated, but it has barred any access to aid agencies wanting to investigate.

($1 = 159 naira)

(Reporting by Isaac Abrak; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Alistair Lyon)

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