ABUJA: Boko Haram Islamists opened fire yesterday on security agents conducting an operation near a residence for lawmakers in Nigeria’s capital Abuja, starting a gunfight that caused deaths and injuries, the intelligence branch and police said.
Following a tip off from arrested Boko Haram fighters, security forces headed to a purported weapons cache behind the building in Abuja’s Apo neighbourhood, said Marilyn Ogar, spokeswoman for the Department of State Services.
Shortly after midnight they started “digging for the arms”, Ogar said in a statement from the intelligence branch.
They then “came under heavy gunfire attack by... Boko Haram elements within the area, which prompted immediate response from the security team,” she said.
“Some persons were injured and 12 others were arrested in connection with the incident,” Ogar added.
Police spokeswoman for Abuja, Hyelhira Altine Daniel, said that “deaths have been recorded,” following the incident, but declined to provide figures.
Ogar later said that she was not yet able to confirm fatalities.
Boko Haram, which claims it wants to set up an Islamic state in northern Nigeria, has previously attacked Abuja in the centre of the country, including bombings at a United Nations building, newspaper offices and a shopping mall.
The capital was placed under tight security after the August 2011 UN bombing, with military checkpoints in place around most government buildings.