Nigeria’s military beat back an attack by Islamist insurgents outside the Borno state capital, Maiduguri, today and sent in reinforcements to prevent another assault, the government said.
Authorities were struggling to reassure locals that the armed forces would defend them against the Boko Haram militants, who have overrun a string of towns in the area in recent weeks. Residents said they heard gunfire coming from the direction of Konduga, 20 miles south-east of the city, and later saw army troop carriers heading there.
“The attackers were repelled,” government spokesman Mike Omeri said. He added government forces were also in control of Bama, a nearby town which saw fierce fighting last week.
A Nigerian military source, who asked not to be named, said the militants had arrived in a convoy of pickup trucks and motorbikes but suffered "dozens" of casualties when the army confronted them. No independent confirmation of the fighting or casualties was immediately available.
"Some people came from Konduga ... they told us the army are in control," Musa Sumail, a human rights activist in Maiduguri, told Reuters.
Omeri said Nigerian government forces were also in control of Bama, a town some 20 miles further down the road from Konduga which saw fierce fighting last week. Reinforcements were being sent up to Konduga and surrounding areas, he added.