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In backlash, vigilantes take on Nigerian Islamists

Vigilantes take on Nigeria's Islamists with state support, but some fear abuses will follow

In backlash, vigilantes take on Nigerian Islamists

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) -- A civilian vigilante force has sprung up in northern Nigeria as a backlash against Boko Haram, the Islamic extremist network responsible for 1,700 deaths in Nigeria since 2010.

They call themselves the "Civilian Joint Task Force" and claim credit for thousands of arrests in Maiduguri, where Boko Haram started.

The vigilantes' emergence over the past six weeks reflects the twists and turns the battle against Islamic extremist violence is taking in Africa's most populous country, where the 160 million people are divided about equally between Muslims and Christians.

Many residents welcome the vigilantes and credit them for some of the relative peace that has returned to Maiduguri. Others find their existence troubling and worry that they may perpetrate human rights abuses.

Updated : 2021-04-22 05:43 GMT+08:00