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Nigeria: Armed vigilantes fight militants, torch home

The arson of Mala Othman's home in northeast Nigeria came as soldiers killed some 40 men accused of belonging to the Boko Haram militant group.

Nigeria Boko Haram 2013 07-01Enlarge
Residents fill a mass grave in the northern Nigerian Zamfara state on June 18, 2013, after a group of bandits attacked the village of Kizara, killing 48 people in a pre-dawn raid in apparent reprisals targeting a local vigilante group. (Stringer/AFP/Getty Images)

Armed with clubs and machetes, vigilantes in northeast Nigeria went door-to-door Monday in search of Boko Haram militants and torched the home of a politician suspected of aiding the Islamic extremists.

The vigilantes, popularly known as the Civilian Joint Task Force, stormed the house of senior party chairman Mala Othman and demanded his arrest, according to the Nigerian Tribune.

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Upon learning Othman had fled, the group set the home ablaze.

The vigilantes moved on to the home of the former governor of the state, Ali Modu Sheriff, but security forces prevented them from causing further "mayhem," the Tribune reported.

The arson came as government soldiers killed some 40 suspected Boko Haram members on the outskirts of Maiduguri city, according to The Associated Press.

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So far, vigilantes have seized more than 100 suspected insurgents in Maiduguri, the Borneo state capital that has borne the brunt of Boko Haram's campaign to impose Sharia law in Nigeria.

President Goodluck Jonathan gave security control to the military when he declared a state of emergency in the northeast states of Yobe, Borneo and Adamawa.

More than 2,000 people have been killed since the militant group, whose name means "Western education is forbidden," began  its offensive in 2009 to overthrow the Nigerian government and create an Islamic state.