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Five killed by police station bomb

Gunmen firing assault rifles bombed a police station in northern Nigeria and robbed a nearby bank, killing at least five people in an attack similar to others carried out by a feared Muslim sect in the region.

Heavy gunfire could be heard throughout the city of Misau in Bauchi state as the attackers detonated a powerful explosive inside a police precinct, reducing it to rubble, witnesses said.

The gunmen killed at least four police officers in the attack, as well as one civilian, said witness Adamu Misau.

The gunmen robbed a branch of Afribank Nigeria, taking an unknown amount of cash with them, he said.

A local police spokesman confirmed the attack but declined to offer any details. The attack bore similarities to others carried out by a sect known locally as Boko Haram.

Nigeria, home to 150 million people, suffers from a weak police force more focused on collecting bribes than law enforcement in the oil-rich nation. The force has been unable to handle the rise of Boko Haram, which many believed had been dismantled after a security crackdown following a sect riot in 2009 left 700 people dead.

The group, whose name means "Western education is sacrilege" in the local Hausa language, seeks the implementation of strict Shariah Islamic law in the country. Nigeria is largely split between a Christian south and Muslim north, where 12 states already have a version of Shariah in place.

Boko Haram has been blamed for a rash of killings targeting security officers, local leaders and clerics in the area over the last year. It also has claimed responsibility for the August 26 bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Nigeria, an attack that killed at least 23 people and wounded another 81. The sect also claimed a bombing at the nation's police headquarters that killed two people in June.

Sophisticated attacks have been carried out on banks in northern Nigeria in recent weeks. On August 25, police in Adamawa state blamed Boko Haram for a police station bombing and robbery of two bank branches that left at least 12 people dead.

Analysts and foreign diplomats have said they believe Boko Haram is using the bank robberies to fund their sectarian fight against Nigeria's weak central government.

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