Nigerian army says it killed 6 suspects in school massacre

ABUJA, Nigeria — The Nigerian military said it killed six insurgents suspected of killing 29 students in a school massacre that provoked international condemnation.

The suspects were killed along with three civilians and one soldier in fighting two days ago in Adamawa state in Nigeria's northeast, near the border with Cameroon, military spokesman Major-General Chris Olukolade said in a statement e-mailed late Thursday from Abuja, the capital.

The insurgents may be "elements that perpetrated the mayhem against students of Federal Government College, Buni Yadi, Yobe state, and other places," Olukolade said. "They have been holed up and are still engaged in suicidal fighting apparently with a view to attaining martyrdom status, as troops close in on the die-hard ones among them."

Nigeria's security forces are battling to contain the Islamist militant group, Boko Haram, which has carried out a violent campaign since 2009 to impose Shariah, or Islamic law, in Africa's biggest oil producer.

At least 17 people were killed in two attacks in Madagali and Minchika towns in Adamawa state on Feb. 26 by suspected Boko Haram members, Maina Ulamaru, chairman of Madagali local government area, said by phone Friday.

Along with Boko Haram, Nigeria's security services were among the worst human rights abusers in the country last year, the U.S. State Department said.

The army and police committed abuses including "extrajudicial killings, torture, rape, beatings, arbitrary detention, mistreatment of detainees, and destruction of property; and widespread societal violence, including ethnic, regional, and religious violence," the State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor said yesterday in its country reports on human rights practices in 2013.

"Impunity remained widespread at all levels of government," the bureau said. "The government brought few persons to justice for abuses and corruption."

President Goodluck Jonathan's spokesman, Reuben Abati, could not be reached for comment as his mobile phone was switched off.

In a report on Nov. 29 last year, New York-based Human Rights Watch said Boko Haram has used children as young as 12 as fighters and abducted and raped women, while the government has failed to account for hundreds of detained men and boys.

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