Africa

Nigerian unrest: Damaturu city 'under militant attack'

Boko Haram militants Image copyright AFP
Image caption Boko Haram began its insurgency five years ago and three states in the north-east are under emergency rule

Suspected Boko Haram militants have carried out attacks on the city of Damaturu in north-east Nigeria, residents and security sources say.

The assault on the city, the capital of Yobe state, began shortly after 05:00 local time (04:00 GMT).

Gunshots and explosions were heard and a base of the riot police was reported to have been set on fire. Yobe state university also came under attack.

In Maiduguri city, twin blasts have ripped through a busy market.

At least six people were killed and 32 wounded in the explosions at Monday market, a source at the local hospital told the BBC Hausa service

'Chaos all over'

Suicide attacks by two female bombers at the same market on 25 November killed 78 people.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Twin blasts in Maiduguri on 25 November caused many casualties, with hospital staff overstretched
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Boko Haram has taken control of a series of towns and villages in north-east Nigeria in recent months

Maiduguri is the capital of Borno state, and neighbours Yobe.

Boko Haram has repeatedly targeted the two states and a third, Adamawa, despite the fact that they are under a state of emergency.

A university student in Damaturu told BBC Focus on Africa he had been woken by the sound of explosions and had seen a large number of militants wearing military uniforms moving into the city.

He said he and some other residents had since fled to the surrounding countryside.

Another resident told the BBC that schools and businesses were shut, and most people were staying at home.

Boko Haram militants had stormed an empty primary school, and were firing shots from there, he said.

Resident Umar Sada told the AFP news agency: "We have left our homes. We are now in the bush. We don't know what's going to happen."

A government official, who asked not to be identified, said: "It's chaos all over the town. All I can hear is explosions and gunfire from my house.

"I couldn't go out for morning prayers because this started before dawn and I'm afraid to leave in case I get caught up in it."

Boko Haram has taken control of a series of towns and villages in north-east Nigeria in recent months.


Who are Boko Haram?

  • Founded in 2002
  • Initially focused on opposing Western education - Boko Haram means "Western education is forbidden" in the Hausa language
  • Launched military operations in 2009 to create Islamic state
  • Thousands killed, mostly in north-eastern Nigeria - also attacked police and UN headquarters in capital, Abuja
  • Some three million people affected
  • Declared terrorist group by US in 2013

Escape from Boko Haram

Who are Boko Haram?

Profile: Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau


The authorities have struggled to defeat the militant Islamist group, which has been waging an insurgency since 2009.

New York-based Human Rights Watch says Boko Haram has killed more than 2,000 civilians this year.

On Friday, more than 100 people were killed in a gun and bomb attack on a mosque in the city of Kano.

The identity of the attackers has not been confirmed but Boko Haram has been widely blamed.

Damaturu has been targeted by Boko Haram a number of times before. At least 63 people were killed in an attack on churches and police in 2011 in what was then the deadliest attack of the insurgency.

On several other occasions since then, militants and the security forces have engaged in gun battles in the city.

Earlier this year, a suicide bomber in Damaturu targeted a crowd watching a televised World Cup football match, killing more than 20 people.

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