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3 physicians killed in Nigeria

| Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013, 9:30 p.m.

POTISKUM, Nigeria — Assailants in northeastern Nigeria killed three North Korean doctors, beheading one of them, in the latest attack on health workers in a nation under assault by a radical Islamic sect, officials said on Sunday.

The doctors were slain Saturday night in Potiskum, a town in Yobe state long under attack by the sect known as Boko Haram. In an earlier incident, gunmen killed at least nine women administering polio vaccines in Kano, the major city of Nigeria's predominantly Muslim north.

The attacks raise questions over whether the extremist sect, targeted by Nigeria's police and military, has picked a new “soft” target in its guerrilla campaign of shootings and bombings across the nation.

The attackers struck at the North Korean doctors inside their home, said Dr. Mohammed Mamman, chairman of the Hospital Managing Board of Yobe State. The North Korean doctors had no security guards at their residence and typically traveled around the city via three-wheeled taxis without a police escort, officials said.

When soldiers arrived at the house, they found the doctors' wives cowering in a flower bed outside. At the property, they found the corpses of the men, all bearing what appeared to be machete wounds.

An Associated Press journalist saw the doctors' corpses before they were moved to nearby Bauchi state. Two of the men had their throats slit. The other had been beheaded.

The doctors lived in a quiet neighborhood filled with modest homes. There wasn't room to house them at the hospital, where they would have had some security protection, Mamman said.

Initially, doctors at the hospital who worked with the physicians identified them as being from South Korea, while police identified the dead as being from China. Ultimately, Mamman of the health board said those killed were from North Korea.

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