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Nigeria sentences 4 Islamists to life for deadly bombings


A Nigerian court on Tuesday sentenced four Islamist extremists to life in prison over 2011 attacks that killed at least 22 people, including the bombing of an electoral office before landmark polls.

The attacks on the electoral office, at a campaign rally and a church occurred in the central city of Suleija, near the capital Abuja. The suspects were accused of being members of Islamist extremist group Boko Haram.

The deadliest was at the electoral office, when 16 people died in a bombing on the eve of parliamentary polls, according to court documents. Three people were killed in the church attack and at least another three died at the campaign rally.

"Shuaibu Abubakar, Salisu Ahmed, Umar Babagana and Mohammed Ali were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment on each count they were convicted of," the registrar at federal high court in Abuja told AFP.

They were accused of using explosives employed for blasting rocks in mining operations to kill or injure.

They were also accused of training others in the use of arms and detonation of explosives in Nasarawa state, also located near Abuja in central Nigeria.

A fifth man, Musa Adam, was acquitted on all counts, while a sixth, Umar Ibrahim, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for helping produce homemade bombs for the purpose of "terrorism".

A low-level opposition politician was initially charged in 2011 over the campaign rally bombing. It was not immediately clear what happened to his case or if the charges had been dropped.

Violence linked to Boko Haram's insurgency has left some 3,600 people dead since 2009, including killings by the security forces.

The group has targeted security forces and other Nigerian symbols of authority, church and schools, among others.

It has claimed to be seeking an Islamic state in Africa's most populous nation, roughly divided between a mainly Muslim north and predominantly Christian south.

The group however is believed to include various factions with differing aims. A sweeping military offensive launched in Nigeria's northeast in mid-May has been seeking to end Boko Haram's insurgency, but the violence has continued.