Vigilantes joined Nigerian security forces in fighting to blunt a Boko Haram attack on Maiduguri, the capital of northeastern Borno state, after the Islamist insurgents gained access to the city.
The army was doing a ’’mopping-up operation’’ after regaining control of Maiduguri and the town of Konduga, about 20 miles (35 kilometers) away, Major-General Chris Olukolade said in a statement late on Sunday. Meanwhile, Boko Haram insurgents captured Monguno, a town north of Maiduguri, vigilante member Ibrahim Hassan said by phone from Maiduguri today.
President Goodluck Jonathan, who was in Maiduguri yesterday to campaign for re-election, left before the attack, Olukolade said. Jonathan promised to restore peace to the northeast after a six-year insurgency to impose Islamic law in Nigeria has led to the deaths of more than 13,000 people. Boko Haram, which roughly translates to “Western education is a sin,” is escalating its campaign, seizing territory to form a so-called caliphate.
“If Boko Haram take Maiduguri, it will be the first time they will sack a sitting state government,” Freedom Onuoha, a research fellow at the Abuja-based National Defence College, said by text message. “It will be politically and strategically devastating.”