| GEO World|
| 55 killed as police battle Nigerian Islamists|
| Updated at: 0126 PST, Tuesday, July 28, 2009|
BAUCHI: Nigeria's security forces on Monday fought gun battles with radical Islamists who went on a rampage torching churches, police posts and government buildings in four northern states.
Police put the number of dead from the weekend religious clashes at 55 in two states of Bauchi and Yobe, as of early Monday morning.
In Borno state, heavily armed Islamist rebels torched a police headquarters, a church and a customs office in the border town of Gamboru-Ngala overnight before moving to the state capital Maiduguri where battles ran into the afternoon.
A Nigerian Islamist sect styled on Afghanistan's Taliban burnt down a central prison in Maiduguri, two police stations, several churches, a government primary school and offices of a state unemployment bureau.
"The situation has degenerated into big battles between the Taliban ... and the soldiers and police. Since morning, you can hear nothing but gunfire all over the city," resident Sanisu Ahamad told media by telephone as sound of gunfire could be heard in the background.
"Many government buildings have been burnt including the central prison and several churches. Streets are deserted. People are in their homes," he said.
Several telecommunications masts have been burnt cutting off many parts of the city.
Maiduguri is the Nigerian Taliban birthplace and stronghold and some neighbourhoods there are seen as Taliban enclaves.