Nigeria’s military says an air bombardment and ground assault have destroyed what it called two “terrorist camps” and killed scores in an ongoing campaign against armed group, Boko Haram, in northeastern Borno state.
Army spokesman Mohammed Dole said on Friday that “74 suspected militants” were killed in the assault outside the regional capital, Maiduguri. Two soldiers and several fighters were also wounded in the joint army and air force attack, he said.
We didn't sleep last night due to fright and the deafening gun sounds and explosions coming from all over the city.
The operation followed an assault on Monday on Boko Haram camps in another part of Borno, which the military said left 37 fighters dead.
In a separate event, Boko Haram’s fighters stormed the city of Damaturu in coordinated raids on Thursday, burning at least four police buildings, according to a senior police officer who requested anonymity but said there were casualties from the attack.
Damaturu is the capital of neighbouring Yobe state, another area repeatedly targeted by Boko Haram in an insurgency aimed at creating an Islamic state in Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north.
“They invaded the city in large numbers in vehicles and on foot from different directions,” the officer said.
They then opened fire “on police facilities with guns and explosives and engaged soldiers and policemen in a fierce gunfire exchange that continued deep into the night,” he said.
Western education is sacrilege
A resident of Damaturu, Haruna Sadi, said the attacks started about 5:00pm local time and continued late into the night, forcing residents to stay indoors.
“We didn’t sleep last night due to fright and the deafening gun sounds and explosions coming from all over the city,” Sadi said. “Everybody is still indoors because of a radio announcement of a 24-hour curfew by the military,” he added.
Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is sacrilege” in the Hausa language of Nigeria’s north, has called for Islamic law to be implemented across the entire country.
It is thought to be a fragmented group, with a murky leadership structure, has attacked churches, mosques, the security forces and schools across northern and central Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country and top oil producer.
They have killed hundreds of people across the northeast since late June, including scores of students.
Last month, President Goodluck Jonathan ordered the country’s top military leaders to redouble their efforts following a spate of brutal attacks on civilians. Jonathan imposed a state of emergency across the northeast in mid-May when the offensive was launched.
Figures released earlier this year said the conflict had cost more than 3,600 lives, including killings by the security forces. The current toll is certainly much higher.