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Published On: Mon, Jan 26th, 2015

Battle for Monguno claims more lives, as Maiduguri curfew lifted

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Gov-ShettimaBy Evelyn Okakwu & Joy Baba Yesufu

The Nigerian military reported fresh fighting with Boko Haram insurgents on Monday, a day after the group seized army barracks in northeastern Borno state and attacked the state capital, Maiduguri.

Defense spokesman, General Chris Olukolade told VOA that an “operation involving air and land assets is underway” to retake the barracks in Monguno, about 180 kilometers northwest of Maiduguri.

Also, the army said on Twitter that troops battled militants Sunday night and early Monday in Konduga, a town about 25 kilometers southeast of Maiduguri.

The military said “ground troops are in charge” of the area and “substantial amounts of heavy weapons” have been captured. It said both sides suffered casualties.

Reuters news agency reported that local journalist Bello Dukku counted more than 100 bodies of people killed in Sunday’s fighting at a morgue in Maiduguri. Dukku said the dead included at least 15 soldiers and a few civilians.

On Sunday, Nigerian officials said soldiers repelled three separate attempts by insurgents to enter Maiduguri.

A security officer said each attempt was from a different direction.

Authorities barricaded the roads and imposed a curfew in the city until further notice.

The northeastern city of Maiduguri, birthplace of Boko Haram’s five-year-old insurgency, is the town it covets as the potential capital of an Islamic state.

Militants also hit two other towns Sunday, including Monguno, which lies on the shores of Lake Chad.

A defense spokesman said on Sunday evening that airstrikes had been carried out to take back the town after ground troops were forced to retreat.

“The operation resumed on Monguno this morning through air bombardment to dislodge the insurgents,” a security source said on Monday.

At least 15 soldiers were killed along with more than over 25 civilians in the town on Monday, a source said.

Soldiers in Monguno said on Sunday they had fled because of the insurgents’ superior fire power.

Monguno lies near the larger town of Baga, where a military base was taken over by Boko Haram in early January in an attack that left scores of civilians dead.

In a subsequent video, the insurgents claimed responsibility for the capture of Baga and said they had seized enough weapons to “annihilate Nigeria.”

Meanwhile, the curfew imposed in Maiduguri after the early Sunday Boko Haram attack was lifted on Monday.

Nigerian Army spokesman, Colonel Sani Usman said: “The curfew imposed on Maiduguri has been lifted as from 6:00 am (0500 GMT). People can go about their legitimate businesses.”

The State governor Kashim Shettima on Monday had to assure the people of the town to keep calm, insisting that the curfew was imposed “to enable security personnel to carry out their operations”.

 

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