Explosions, Gunfire Rock Damaturu

Pedestrians walk by a pickup truck burnt by members of the Boko Haram Islamist sect in Damaturu, Nigeria, in 2011. By Aminu Abubakar (AFP/File) (AFP) – Explosions and gunfire rocked the city of Damaturu on Friday, police said, in an area plagued by repeated attacks by Boko Haram Islamists.

“There have been huge explosions and sporadic gunfire around (the) Shagari Low Cost area of the city,” said Gbadegesin Toyin, police spokesman in Yobe state of which Damaturu is the capital. “In fact, the explosions and the shootings are still ongoing.”

While the radical Islamists have launched waves of attacks in the city, typically targeting the security services, some of the violence has been intiated by a specialised army unit, who often raid suspected Boko Haram hideouts.

“We still don’t have details of what is going on but we have alerted our men to confront any eventuality,” the police spokesman said.

Damaturu, which is near Boko Haram’s base of Maiduguri, is also under curfew, with residents forced to be in their homes from dusk to dawn following running clashes between troops and Islamists last month.

“For more than an hour now we have been besieged by loud explosions and shootings in this neighbourhood and we still can’t figure out what is going on because of the curfew,” said Babagana Abdullahi, a resident of the affected neighbourhood.

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