Tension and uncertainty continue to reign in Damaturu, capital of Yobe State, as Nigerian troops engage Boko Haram insurgents in intense gun battle in an effort to resist a takeover of the strategic city by the terrorists.
In what many residents say looked like an attempted takeover of the town by the group, loud shootings and explosions were heard in the city as early as 6:00am, causing tension and panicking among residents, many of who fled their homes or locked themselves in.
The insurgents reportedly entered Damaturu from the Gujba southeast axis and surrounded it with sporadic shooting, followed by the triggering off of deafening explosives.
It was gathered that over an hour after the insurgents attacked, the military engaged them in a careful joint air and land operation that has restored some calm to the city centre.
But as at the time of filing this report, the gun battle between the insurgents and soldiers continued. So far, no casualty has been reported, although a police barrack in the area was said to have been destroyed.
Monday’s attack comes after a suicide bomb and gun attack on the central mosque in the northern city of Kano on Friday that killed at least 120 people.
Boko Haram militants, who have been waging a five-year rebellion to create a hardline Islamic state in north-east Nigeria, have conducted similar dawn raids and attacked Damaturu before.
On June 18, at least 21 football fans were killed in the state when a bomb exploded as they watched a World Cup match at a public viewing centre.
Boko Haram also claimed responsibility for an October 24 attack on Damaturu, in which four police buildings were attacked with guns and explosives and security forces were engaged in hours-long gun battle to restore calm.
Yobe is one of three states that were placed under a state of emergency in May 2013.
Nigeria’s president Goodluck Jonathan last month requested an extension of the emergency rule in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States, but it is yet to be approved by the National Assembly.