ABUJA - The Nigerian Islamist sect Boko Haram has killed at least 935 people since it launched an uprising in 2009, including more than 250 in the first weeks of this year, Human Rights Watch said on Tuesday.
Boko Haram, which means "Western education is sinful" in the Hausa language spoken in northern Nigeria, is loosely modeled on Afghanistan's Taliban. It has claimed responsibility for bombing churches, police stations, military facilities, banks and beer parlors in the mainly Muslim north of Nigeria.
The sect focuses its attacks mostly on the police, military and government, but has recently increased its attacks on Christian institutions. It says it is fighting enemies who have wronged its members through violence, arrests or economic neglect and corruption.
Bomb attacks and gun battles in Nigeria's second largest city, Kano, killed 186 people on Jan. 20, in Boko Haram's most deadly attack to date. Gunfire was heard in Kano early on Tuesday, witnesses said.
"Boko Haram's attacks show a complete and utter disregard for human life," said Corinne Dufka, senior West Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch.