MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) — A relative of the slain leader of a radical Muslim sect in Nigeria was shot dead Saturday, only two days after taking part in peace talks led by a former president, police said.
Babakura Fugu's killing comes as Nigeria's weak central government struggles to stop attacks carried out by the feared sect. The group known locally as Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the Aug. 26 car bombing of the United Nations headquarters that killed 23 people.
His death also raises concerns about who controls the sect, which has reported links to two other al-Qaida-affiliated terror groups in Africa, and whether its fighters want to negotiate an end to their increasingly bloody sectarian attacks.
Boko Haram later claimed responsibility for the attack in a text message to the BBC's Hausa language radio service, a trusted source of news throughout Nigeria's north. The claim could not immediately be independently verified.
A lone gunman approached Fugu near his home Saturday close to the site of Boko Haram's former main mosque in Maiduguri, a city in the far reaches of northeast Nigeria approaching the Sahara Desert.
The gunman pulled a Kalashnikov rifle from inside the folds of his traditional robes and shot Fugu to death, Borno state police commissioner Simeone Midenda said.
No one else was wounded in the attack and the gunman apparently walked away, Midenda said. The commissioner said no arrests have been made in the attack.
Fugu is a relative of the late Boko Haram leader Mohammed Yusuf, who died in police custody following a 2009 sect riot and security crackdown that left 700 people dead. Fugu and other family members had spoken with former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo on Thursday in a fledgling peace effort to stop the sect's attacks.
Jon Gambrell reported from Lagos, Nigeria. He can be reached at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.
Associated Press writer Bashir Adigun in Abuja, Nigeria contributed to this report.