Boko Haram attack on Nigerian city Maiduguri leaves hundreds dead as troops repel insurgents – but scorched-earth attacks on villages continue

The attacks come at the same time John Kerry has travelled to Lagos to ask for peace around the elections

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The Independent Online

Hundreds of people have been killed after suspected Boko Haram fighters clashed with Nigerian forces in the strategically important north-eastern city of Maiduguri on Sunday.

Residents awoke to the sounds of explosions and heavy gunfire as the insurgents launched their pre-dawn attack, the BBC reports, while ground troops and air strikes helped to hold off the insurgent attacks.

Over 200 combatants, mostly insurgents, were killed in the fighting as Nigerian troops held the city, though Boko Haram had managed to capture the north-eastern town of Monguno earlier in the day.

But as the fighting in the city raged, more suspected insurgents continued their scorched-earth attack on villages 125 miles to the south of the major city, in Adamawa state.

In a brutal attack they stormed though villages, slitting people’s throats, looting and burning homes to the ground before abducting dozens of trapped women and children, according to survivors.

Adamu Kamale, the Adamawa state legislator, has called for military help to protect the six villages under attack in Michika, where he claims there has been no protection.

“The attacks have continued since Friday with no presence of security operatives,” he said.

Maiduguri is the capital of the Borno state and home to thousands who have fled the violence in other towns. The city would have been a major asset to the insurgents should they have succeeded in their mission.

The multiple attacks come as US secretary of state John Kerry visited Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital nearly 1,000 miles southwest of Maiduguri, to encourage peaceful elections in the upcoming 14 February vote.


US Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan at the State House in Lagos

“This will be the largest democratic election on the continent,” Kerry said. “Given the stakes, it’s absolutely critical that these elections be conducted peacefully – that they are credible, transparent and accountable.

Kerry, who met with president Goodluck Jonathan, and with the running rival, the former military dictator Muhammadu Buhari, said he had won pledges from both candidates to refrain from violence after the election.

He promised that the US would boost its support for Nigeria’s fight against Boko Haram if the elections take place peacefully and democratically, and warned that anyone found to be inciting post-election mayhem would be barred from entering America, where millions of Nigerians live.

Additional reporting by AP