Monday, January 26, 2015

Troops Repel Boko Haram Attack on Maiduguri
Published on Monday, 26 January 2015 05:02
Written by Hamza Idris, Maiduguri
Nigerian Daily Trust

Families of soldiers trapped in Monguno

Over 230 suspected Boko Haram militants were reportedly killed yesterday when they launched a daring invasion to take over Maiduguri, the Borno state capital.

Unspecified number of troops, youth vigilantes and civilians were killed during the fight to save the city, residents said.

Deafening sound of blasts and gunfire heralded the attack, followed by artillery fire late on Saturday night and extended to the early hours of yesterday.

Elsewhere, the insurgents attacked and took over Monguno, the biggest town in northern part of the state.

They also took over the army barracks in the town which was recently upgraded to a Brigade.

Our correspondent reports that in Maiduguri, residents including over one million displaced people taking refuge in the capital had a restless night as the fighting raged on.

Since yesterday, virtually all settlements on the outskirts of the city such as Moromti, Gomari, Dala, Shagari low cost, Allah Karim, Dalori, Kokari among others have been deserted.

Fighter jets took hours hovering in the skies while artillery fire was deployed for ground operations.

Sound of blasts and gunfire rattled residents as children wailed while their parents hurried them to safety. The 24 hour curfew imposed on Maiduguri has kept people at home hungry as markets and shops have been closed and economic activities are paralyzed.

It was gathered that over 1500 Boko Haram militants invaded Maiduguri from various directions. Security sources said it was “the most daring attempt to take over the city”.

The attacks occurred barely 12 hours after President Goodluck Jonathan’s presidential campaign in Maiduguri during which he promised to end the insurgency if re-elected.

Following the sporadic attacks on the town, a 24 hour curfew has been announced, forcing people to remain indoors.

A military source said the first batch of about 500 assailants, mobilized from forests around Damboa and Alagarno had stormed Maiduguri from the south-western plank.

“They came through Jimtilo village on Maiduguri-Damaturu road, bringing them to within five kilometres of the Air Force Base, three kilometres to the 333 Artillery Brigade and less than 10 kilometres to the city centre,” the source said.

Witnesses said the attackers drove throughout the night and started engaging troops around 5.30am.

“They came in a convoy of many Hilux vehicles and motorcycles, armed with deadly weapons, including anti aircraft missiles and explosives,” Kolomi Ahmadu, a trader from Jimtilo, who fled to the city said.

A security source said troops from the 7 Division in Maiduguri mobilised towards Jimtilo with Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) and engaged the attackers.

“We engaged them seriously, in fact, we decimated them. Those that survived our onslaught fled the battle field, but thank God, a fighter jet pursued them up to Jewu and killed many more,” he said.

Sources said the attackers had wanted to take over the 333 Artillery regiment adding that they had even killed a soldier and a civilian near the perimeter fence before they were pushed back.

A vigilante, Yusuf Aliyu said they lost many of their members in the attack.

“What saved Maiduguri today (yesterday) is the gallantry of Nigerian troops and commitment of our men. Again, the trenches that were dug around Maiduguri also helped in protecting the town,” he said.

Another set of the insurgents that attacked Maiduguri from Bama in north central part of the state were confronted by troops at Konduga, 40 kilometres away.

The insurgents had attacked Maiduguri at least 20 times now from that direction in the last six months.

Dozens of soldiers, DSS operatives journalists as well as prominent Borno politicians that came from Abuja for the presidendial rally were trapped in Maiduguri.

Monguno town, Barracks fall to insurgents

It was also gathered that Monguno town, situated 120 kilometers along the Maiduguri-Baga road has fallen to the Boko Haram fighters.

The insurgents reportedly stormed the town at night after mobilizing from Baga, Abadam, Marte and other hidden cells along the shores of the Lake Chad. With the fall of Monguno, about 1,400 soldiers allegedly fled to the city to Maiduguri.

Meanwhile, families of soldiers and other residents of Monguno, Borno State, which was attacked and seized by Boko Haram militants yesterday are being held hostage by the militants, Daily Trust gathered.

Our correspondent learnt that most of those affected are women, children and the elderly who could not flee escape during the attack.

Troops reportedly retreated after the attackers kept trooping into Monguno with what soldiers described as “superior and deadly weapons.”

Some soldiers’ wives and their children are trapped at the military barracks.

“It was indeed a sad outing for us in Monguno because the terrorists are in absolute control while many innocent people are trapped there,” a source said.

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