Police said 17 persons were killed and 24 people injured when Boko Haram insurgents staged a coordinated attack on Maiduguri, the Borno state capital, on Wednesday night.
The Commissioner of Police, Damian Chukwu, told journalists at a press briefing at the state police headquarters, Maiduguri, that three Boko Haram suicide bombers were shot dead as security personnel battled to repel an invasion late Wednesday.
He said one of the attackers, who was also armed with explosives wrapped around his body, was arrested alive.
He said the police recovered 14 bodies and 24 injured victims from the scene of multiple bomb attacks in mosques around the Chad Basin Development Authority headquarters. The injured were being treated, he said.
“We had some incidents of act of terrorism by the BHT yesterday the 7th June 2016, which was a clearly indication that the terrorists who have suffered defeat and rendered incapable of carrying out their usual attacks had resorted to guerilla actions,” said Mr. Chukwu.
“Yesterday 17:55 hours some Boko Haram terrorist attacked at Alidawari village near Jiddari Polo area of Maiduguri, sporadically firing AA (anti-aircraft) rifles across Jiddari Polo and the Federal High Court. They set fire on some houses.
“Reacting to distress call we deployed our counter terrorism unit to engage them. And shortly after, the military moved, mobilized maximally and repelled the attack, after engaging in a gun duel that lasted for about an hour,” he said.
He said the fire service personnel were invited to put out the inferno on the torched house and fleeing residents were able to return to their homes after about two hours.
Mr. Chukwu said one of the attackers was captured alive and was in the custody of the Nigeria army, while “three terrorists including a suicide bomber were killed in action”.
He said several arms cache were recovered while some bombs were recovered and defused.
Earlier, one witness at the Teaching Hospital Maiduguri had informed PREMIUM TIMES that about 37 persons were taken to the hospital for treatment, while eight bodies were deposited at the mortuary.
The attack on Jiddari Polo area started at about the time the majority Muslim residents were about to break their Ramadan fast.
Residents could not settle down for their meals as deafening sounds of shooting and bombs rented the air forcing dwellers of the suburbs at the outskirts of the town to flee into the city.
A witness, Yunusa Garba, told PREMIUM TIMES on phone that his home was close to the major fighting point between soldiers and the insurgents.
“As I am talking to you, our neighborhood, which is not far away from the locations where the shooting was is filled with people that had to flee their communities as the Boko Haram arrived. They are all here, women aged men and children, all roaming the streets,” he said.
He said some of the dislodged residents in the villages had earlier in the day alerted some security officials about a large assemblage of Boko Haram gunmen at a village named Alidawari, not more than 5km from Maiduguri.
“A report was taken to the security about the Boko Haram gathering at about 3 p.m., but nothing was done to that effect,” he said.
“But it was about three hours later that we learnt that the gunmen had attacked some of the small villages and chased all residents away. Most of the displaced residents made it to Maiduguri on foot”.
The Borno governor, Kashim Shettima, later visited the displaced persons on Wednesday night.
The attack on Alidawari, would be the first major assault by Boko Haram on Maiduguri in a long time.