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Reuters

By IBRAHIM MSHELIZZA
MAIDUGURI, Nigeria, Aug 4 (Reuters) – It was when the first home-made bomb went off that we realised this was more than just a demonstration by misguided youths.

We knew the young men living in our midst with beards and turbans hanging down behind their heads were followers of Mohammed Yusuf, a charismatic Islamic cleric opposed to everything Western, but we never thought they were dangerous.

At times they would say “Salam Alaikum” (Peace be with you) on the way to their mosque on the edge of our neighbourhood in the northern Nigerian city of Maiduguri but mostly they kept themselves to themselves.

Many were among our own children. We knew their parents, we saw them born and grow up.

When the gunshots started that Sunday night (July 26) we thought it was one of the joint police and army patrols set up last year to fight armed robbery and clashes between herdsmen and farmers. (more…)

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