Tue, Feb 03, 2015 - Page 6 News List

Nigerian military repels Boko Haram

POLLING CONCERNS:Nigeria is scheduled to go to the polls on Feb. 14, but hundreds of thousands of voters could be prevented from casting ballots because of violence

AFP, KANO, Nigeria

Nigeria’s military on Sunday repelled a Boko Haram assault on the key city of Maiduguri as violence raged across the country’s northeast just two weeks before national elections.

The hours-long attack on the strategic capital of Borno state was the Islamists’ second attempt to take Maiduguri in a week.

As government forces were holding them off, the air force of neighboring Chad was pounding the militants’ positions in Gamboru, a town on Nigeria’s border with Cameroon, 140km to the northeast.

With near-relentless violence plaguing much of the northeast, and Boko Haram still in control of large swathes of the region, fears are mounting over the prospect of organizing the Feb. 14 polls.

The opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), which claims to be gaining momentum in the campaign against Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, has rejected calls for the vote to be postponed.

However, hundreds of thousands of voters in the northeast, an APC stronghold, could be disenfranchised by the unrest if the election goes ahead in two weeks.

Heavily armed gunmen attacked the southern edge of Maiduguri at about 3am on Sunday, setting off explosives as they tried to enter the city, several residents said.

Repelled in the south by troops backed by vigilantes, they regrouped and tried to take the city from the east, where they again met stiff resistance.

As the gunbattles raged, “the whole city [was] in fear,” resident Adam Krenuwa said.

Nigerian Ministry of Defense spokesman Chris Olukolade said the assault on the town, where the extremist group was founded more than a decade ago, was “contained” and that “the terrorists incurred massive casualties.”

“The situation is calm as mopping up operation in the affected area is ongoing,” he wrote in a text message, a claim consistent with witness reports.

In other attacks in the northeast on Sunday, a suicide bomber killed seven people in Potiskum, the economic capital of Yobe state, while two blasts killed five people in Gombe city to the south.

The bomber in Potiskum blew himself up shortly after midday outside the home of Sabo Garbu, who is running for a seat in the lower house of parliament on behalf of the People’s Democratic Party.

Seven people died in the blast and seven were wounded, a police officer at the scene who requested anonymity said.

Garbu and those attending his campaign meeting reportedly escaped unhurt.

This story has been viewed 1820 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top