Damaturu Under Siege

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The Joint Task Force on Operation Restore Order engage suspected Boko Haram fighters in a bloody gun fight

Government, commercial and other activities have been shut down in Damaturu, the capital of Yobe State, following the attack by Boko Haram, a militant Islamic sect, on the state capital early this morning

DAMATURU, capital of Yobe State, is under siege by the Boko Haram insurgents while the state government has shut down the city. The State government under the leadership of Governor Ibrahim Geidiam was quoted by Raypower radio as saying that only workers providing essential services such as the police, hospital, fire service, among others should report for work.

The dreaded Boko Haram attacked the city this morning at about 5:00 am shooting sporadically and triggering off explosives as they moved to take control of security facilities in the state capital. The militants were said to have moved from Gujba, a south east town, purportedly a stronghold of the sect.

Realnews reporter, who monitored reports on Raypower, said residents of the area were woken up by the bomb blasts and had to desert their homes. Mostly affected were said to be residents of Jerusalem and Pawari, bye pass along Gujba Road who were forced to desert their houses for safety.

The insurgents also attacked the Police Mobile unit, a police barracks and the Yobe State University where they exchanged gunfire with the police on duty.

“We have left our homes. We are now in the bush. We don’t know what’s going to happen,” Umar Sada, a resident told the press.

Another resident, a government official, who wishes anonymity, 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.”

The latest raid in Damaturu came after a suicide bomb and gun attack on the central mosque in the northern city of Kano on Friday, November 28, in which more than 120 people were killed.

Boko Haram insurgents, who have been waging a five-year rebellion to create an Islamic state in northeast Nigeria, have conducted similar dawn raids and attack in Damaturu before. On June 18, no fewer than 21 football fans were killed at a viewing centre, when a bomb exploded during a World Cup match.

The fundamentalists also claimed responsibility for attack on Damaturu, on October 24, in which four police buildings were attacked with explosives and guns. About 30 persons, mostly soldiers, were killed in the encounter.

Yobe is one of the three states under state of emergency since May 2013. President Goodluck Jonathan’s request for an extension of the state of emergency is still pending before the Senate while the House of Representatives has refused to grant an extension.

— Dec. 1, 2014 @ 11:30 GMT

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