Times Wire Reports

The leader of an Islamist sect blamed for days of violence in northern Nigeria has been shot and killed while in police custody, officials said.

The police commander of Borno state announced on state radio that Mohammed Yusuf, the leader of the sect some call the Nigerian Taliban, was dead. He gave no explanation, but a spokesman for the state governor said he thought Yusuf had been killed while trying to escape. Agence France-Presse reported that Yusuf’s bullet-riddled body was shown on state television.

Troops shelled Yusuf’s compound in the city of Maiduguri on Wednesday. Though his deputy was killed, he managed to escape with about 300 followers. Soldiers launched a manhunt and reportedly found Yusuf hiding in a goat pen at a relative’s home.

Human Rights Watch called reports of Yusuf’s killing “extremely worrying.” It called on authorities to investigate.