Nigerian Army officials have confirmed that they are fighting with Boko Haram militants in the city of Maiduguri, as the terrorist group attempts to capture the strategic city for the second time in a week.
Boko Haram renewed attempts to seize the key Nigerian city of Maiduguri Sunday, the militants’ second attack there in a week.
Islamist extremists tried to enter Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, during a predawn attack after the army fought them off last week. Gunfire raged for hours on the outskirts of the city, residents said.
“Fighting has been going on since 3 a.m. as Boko Haram battles soldiers and vigilantes,” said Mahmud Kyari, who lives in Maiduguri. “Explosions and gunfire are all we hear.”
The militants launched bomb and gun attacks from three points outside the city, but met stiff resistance from troops and vigilantes, residents said. Government officials said fighter jets were hitting the insurgents’ positions.
“Boko Haram gunmen have been routed and are on the run,” said Sadiq Balarabe, another resident.
The militants continued their attempt to enter the city from other areas after they were defeated in Mulai.
Soldiers had previously repelled attacks in Maiduguri on January 25, but the extremists seized the nearby town of Monguno and its military barracks.
Monguno is 135 kilometers (85 miles) from Maiduguri. The former has a population of 100,000, while Maiduguri’s has shot up to about 2 million as throngs have taken refuge there to escape militant attacks.
Both cities are near the Chad and Cameroon borders, which would give the militants an entry point into those countries.
Monguno and its military post had served as a buffer to keep the militants away from Maiduguri. Its fall left Maiduguri vulnerable to capture by the militants.