Scores killed in Boko Haram attack on Maiduguri

Hundreds of families were on Sunday trying to move into safer areas of Maiduguri, the provincial capital of Nigeria's northeastern Borno state

Scores killed in Boko Haram attack on Maiduguri

World Bulletin/News Desk

 

Scores of people, including militants, were killed on Sunday when Boko Haram attacked Maiduguri, the provincial capital of Nigeria's northeastern Borno state.

"More than 100 Boko Haram militants were killed today," Babagana Mohammed, a member of the local vigilante group, told The Anadolu Agency.

Boko Haram insurgents attacked Njimtilo, a community located west of Maiduguri, in the morning and clashed with security forces.

"Many of us joined the military early in the morning to pursue Boko Haram," Mohammed said. "We followed them as military aircraft also struck them from the air."

He asserted that some vigilantes were also killed in the clashes.

"More than 20 corpses have been admitted to the hospital's emergency unit now," a source at the State General Hospital told AA, requesting anonymity.

Nigerian defense spokesman Chris Olukolade earlier confirmed the attack on Maiduguri.

"Troops are repelling a simultaneous attack on Monguno and Maiduguri by terrorists," he told AA. "Coordinated air and land operations are being conducted."

Olukolade, however, was not immediately available to confirm the claim that the attack on Maiduguri has been repulsed or give an official death toll.

Curfew has already been imposed on Maiduguri and all roads have been closed.

AA reporter who attempted to move round the city to observe the situation was turned back by military troops at a checkpoint.

"We've been ordered to close all roads because there is a problem somewhere in the city and our men are fighting the terrorists," a military trooper told our reporter.

Jubrin Gunda, a spokesman for the vigilante Civilian Joint Task Force, confirmed earlier that Monguno had fallen to Boko Haram.

"With the capture of Monguno, I'm sad to note that the entire northern Borno has how fallen," he told AA.

"I couldn't wait longer because I was praying the insurgents wouldn't get into the city before the break of the day," Abdullahi Lawan, a local resident, told The Anadolu Agency.

"That's why I moved out with my family into the heart of the town early this morning," he said.

Boko Haram insurgents attacked Njimtilo, a community located west of Maiduguri, in the morning and clashed with security forces.

Lawan said hundreds of people living in the two major government estates along Njimtilo had fled the area.

AA reporter in Maiduguri saw some of the fleeing residents, apparently looking worried, near the post office area in the heart of the city, hurrying to board a tricycle.

"Can't you see we're fleeing danger zone," said a middle-age woman holding two under-aged boys when approached for comment.

Streets of Maiduguri were immediately deserted as security troops manning military checkpoints ordered residents to remain indoors.

"We've been ordered to close all roads because there is a problem somewhere in the city and our men are fighting the terrorists," a military trooper told AA reporter who attempted to move round the city to observe the situation.

The military has already announced curfew, urging all residents to cooperate.

"Curfew is imposed on Maiduguri with immediate effect till further notice as pursuit of retreating terrorists begins," defense spokesman Chris Olukolade told AA earlier.

"Troops are repelling a simultaneous attack on Monguno and Maiduguri by terrorists," he confirmed. "Coordinated air and land operations are being conducted."

A military aircraft was seen hovering over Njimtilo.

Panic

Idris Musa, who lives near Njimtilo, confirmed the attack and said there is panic among residents in the area.

"Everybody is evacuating his family now," he told AA on phone.

"The shooting started in the midnight and we thought it will subside but it hasn't," he said.

"It is getting worse and I am moving my family out of the area like everybody," added Musa.

"It is becoming scarier because the Boko Haram aren't giving up; they're advancing toward the city despite the resistance from soldiers," he said.

Most churches that had earlier opened its doors for Sunday services hurriedly conducted the prayers and asked members to return home.

Many people who had gone for the services before hearing about the attack and the curfew were compelled to leave their cars behind and walk for several kilometers.

"We've agreed and told those who came to church with their cars before the announcement of the curfew to leave them behind and walk home with their families," confirmed David Olutayo, an official of one of the churches.

Boko Haram has made repeated attempts to invade Maiduguri, the group's birthplace, in the past.

In Dec. 2013, the militants mounted a daring attack on an army and air force base, killing at least 24 people including military personnel.

"Maiduguri's commercial viability as a major route for trans-Sahara trade up till Mali, Morocco and Saudi Arabia is known," Bulama Mali Gubio, a spokesman for Borno Elders Forum, told AA in a December interview.

"Till today, most Nigerian products get to some African countries like Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Central Africa Republic through Borno," he explained.

Losing the city to insurgents will be a huge economic blow.

For the last five years, Nigeria has battled a fierce Boko Haram insurgency that has ravaged the country's volatile northeast and claimed thousands of lives.

The year 2014 proved to be the insurgency's bloodiest year yet, with increasingly frequent attacks, higher death tolls and a deluge of displaced persons.

A seemingly emboldened Boko Haram recently stepped up its militant activity, seizing several areas of Adamawa, Yobe and Borno states.

Last Mod: 25 Ocak 2015, 19:43
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