2nd December, 2013
Boko Haram militants have staged dare-devil attacks overnight in Maiduguri, the north eastern Nigerian city, prompting military authorities Monday to impose a total ban on movement.
The ban also affected flights: no air traffic is allowed in or out of embattled Borno state.
The extent of the attacks was unknown with communication hampered by the restrictions imposed by the military authorities.
But a military spokesman told the French news agency, AFP, that one of the attacks was staged near the airport. He did not confirm whether the airforce base was hit, as being speculated.
“The Borno state government in consultation with (the military) has decided to impose a 24-hour curfew on Maiduguri,” Borno’s capital, said state government secretary Baba Ahmed Jidda.
“The imposition of the curfew is necessitated by an attack in Maiduguri by people suspected to be Boko Haram members in the early hours of today. Borno state government pleads with all citizens to remain calm and law abiding until the situation is put under control.”
The suspectedly large attack in a major urban centre will cast further doubt on military claims that the Islamist insurgents have been pushed into remote, more rural parts of the northeast.
The military on Saturday said they would tighten security in communities near Nigeria’s northern and eastern borders with Chad, Niger and Cameroon due to fears about Boko Haram strikes over the Christmas and New Year period.
Army spokesman Ibrahim Attahiru said on Monday that one of the attacks struck near the city’s airport but he was not able to provide further details.
The phone network has been down in Borno state since mid-May, when a state of emergency was declared in the area.
The military said the shutdown would help block militants from coordinating attacks but with no working mobile phone service, details of the conflict in the area have been difficult to verify.
The latest violence began at around 3:00 am (0200 GMT) and included bomb and gun attacks, an AFP correspondent in the city said.
Boko Haram was founded in Maiduguri more than 10 years ago and has attacked the city repeatedly.