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ilar communities elsewhere, clashed repeatedly with the police. In the main, they were postgraduate stu- dents who had recently returned from studying in the Sudan and were eager to put what they had learned into practice. Indeed, they quickly condemned the ex- isting religious authorities as corrupt and, therefore, illegitimate.34 Such arguments found a receptive audi- ence among the young urban poor, who had few op- portunities open to them and little to look forward to. So much so that the group quickly attracted, if not the outright support, then sympathies of tens of thousands of people in towns and cities across the north.

That Boko Haram was a force to be reckoned with first truly became evident in 2004 after its members clashed with police and members of the security ser- vices in a series of bloody riots. Throughout the sum- mer of 2009, large parts of the north were plunged into turmoil due to further violence that began in earnest on July 26 when Boko Haram militants opened fire on a police station in Bauchi. In response, the state gover- nor called in the army to restore order. Over the next few days it fought running street battles with Boko Haram gunmen until it finally surrounded Yusuf’s compound. It took several more days of heavy fight- ing before the insurrection was finally crushed. Latest estimates place the final death toll at between 700 and 800 people.35

But even that, and Yusuf’s summary execution by police, failed to put an end to the fighting. Even after his death, or perhaps because of it, violence broke out in towns and villages across the north. That it contin- ues to occur is of great concern to the authorities and security forces. Yet even more worrying are the sophis- ticated nature of the attacks, the use of firearms, and


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