MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (Reuters) - Gunmen suspected of being members of a radical Islamic sect shot dead a political party youth leader in northeast Nigeria on Sunday, less than a week before elections begin in Africa’s most populous nation.
The local politician was a member of the opposition All Nigeria People’s Party, which has localised support in parts of the north of the country but is not expected to gain the widespread backing needed to win the presidential vote.
The police said they believed the killing was carried out by members of Boko Haram, a radical Islamic group behind months of unrest and targeted religious killings, mostly in the northeast around Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state.
“The killers had come on their motorbikes in their usual manner before shooting their victim on the head and chest,” said Mohammed Abubakar, Police Commissioner of Borno state.
Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is sinful”, launched an uprising in 2009 in which hundreds of people were killed and has increasingly targeted politicians in its attacks.
The sect wants sharia, Islamic law, more widely applied across Nigeria but its views are not espoused by most of the country’s Muslim population, the largest in sub-Saharan Africa.
Parliamentary elections will be held in Nigeria on April 2, the presidential poll is a week later and voters will elect governors in the country’s 36 states on April 16.