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Page last updated at 19:45 GMT, Monday, 27 July 2009 20:45 UK

Fear and tension after Nigeria attack

Police in Maiduguri pull a body from a truck, 27/07
For weeks rumours had circulated that an attack was planned

Dozens of people have been killed in gun battles between police and Islamist insurgents in the Nigerian city of Maiduguri. The BBC's Bilkisu Babangida got to the scene shortly after the shooting ended.

At the police headquarters the situation was alarming.

There were about 100 corpses. Most of them had gunshot wounds.

They looked to be members of a religious sect, although it was difficult to tell.

Military personnel, police and other security officers were all around the police headquarters.

They were patrolling around shooting in the air.

They were all well-armed. Even the police commissioner and all the other senior officers were holding guns.

The people were panicking - they could hear gunshots and did not really know what the security situation was.

Roadblocks and curfews

The group had attacked the new prison complex, then the police offices, houses and vehicles.

They were fighting against the police and security forces.

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After the attack, as heavily-armed police patrolled the streets, it was reported that they were going to come back to the headquarters to get revenge for the people who were killed.

But security forces seemed to keep control.

A dusk-to-dawn curfew has been put in place and security personnel are patrolling all over town - particularly outside government and police buildings.

They have also put roadblocks up all over town.

There is a lot of tension among the people - all the shops and banks have been closed all day. There has been no commercial activity whatsoever.

The police commissioner has asked people to move away from the areas where the attacks took place, and people have been moving their relatives and children to other places for safety.

'Not Muslim'

The attack was not a complete surprise. Over the past few weeks, rumours had been circulating of possible attacks just like this one.

Through text messages and mobile phone conversations people were saying these individuals were going to come out at about midnight and attack.

The rumours were right.

Now reports are saying this attack and the ones in other states could have been carried out by people loyal to a preacher called Mohammed Yusuf.

Three days ago, after 10 of his followers were apprehended by the police, journalists spoke to him by telephone and he said he would continue to struggle, against security officers and the country in general.

He belongs to an Islamic sect who does not believe in Western education - he says anybody who has Western education is not a Muslim.



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