The Nigerian military has launched airstrikes on suburbs of Gombe town as soldiers and police battled Boko Haram insurgents who attacked the town early Saturday, residents have said.
Fighting continued Saturday noon as Air Force jets targeted areas raided by the militants outside Gombe city.
The terrorists had attacked Lubo and Dadinkowa villages, some 32km from Gombe town, before heading for capital city.
A resident, Mallam Hassan, told PREMIUM TIMES on phone that “we’ve all rushed back to our homes now. Our town is under attack; we heard that Boko Haram terrorists, in their hundreds, are trying to invade the town”.
“Everywhere is quiet now, but the sounds of shooting and explosion is deafening. We hear the soldiers are battling to stop them”.
Another resident said soldiers and police confronted the sect members in Linji village, on the outskirts of Gombe.
A resident, Ahmed Hamza, told PREMIUM TIMES that some young men from Dadin Kowa town earlier informed him that the sect members were attacking their town.
“We can hear sounds of gunshots from a distance and everybody has gone indoors now,” he said.
Another source who declined to be named for security reasons also said the insurgents headed towards the Army Barracks along Dadin Kowa road when the Nigerian Army troop engaged them while a detachment of mobile police officers provided back up.
The spokesperson of the Police in the state, Fwaje Atajiri, could not be reached for comments at time of this report.
The Boko Haram terrorist group has repeatedly attacked the town bombing bus stations and other locations.
Saturday’s attack is coming less than two weeks after a suicide bomber struck in the city shortly after President Goodluck Jonathan campaigned.
Mr. Jonathan was in Gombe for a rally that February 2, when a female suicide bomber struck shortly after the campaign train departed.
The female suicide bomber and a passer-by died in the attack, while six persons were injured, the police said at the time.
In December, the Nigerian military said it killed 67 of the insurgents, who, in a convoy of over 30 vehicles and motorcycles, were on a mission to capture Ashaka, another Gombe town, the host community of Ashaka Cement Plant.
The defence headquarters, which admitted losing 10 soldiers in the battle, said troops got intelligence report on their mission and laid ambush for them.