The Nigerian military said on Monday evening that five of its aircraft were ‘incapacitated’ when suspected Boko Haram members attacked an Airforce base in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital. Soldiers, however, killed 24 of the insurgents in a gun-battle, the defence headquarters said.
Several Boko Haram members, residents said about 500, attacked the Airforce Base, the Maiduguri international airport, and some civilian locations in the early hours of Monday.
Scores of civilians were feared killed by the insurgents, although the military kept mum on the civilian casualty.
The Borno State government declared a 24 hour curfew in Maiduguri, after the attack which started at about 2:30 a.m., according to residents.
The defence headquarters’ statement, signed by the Director, Defence Information, Chris Olukolade, said apart from the Air Force Base, the insurgents also attacked some Nigerian Army locations in Maiduguri.
“Three decommissioned military aircrafts as well as two Helicopters were incapacitated in the course of the attack,” the spokesperson said; although some residents had reported that some aircraft were burnt by the insurgents.
“Two Air Force personnel were also wounded while 24 insurgents died during the exchange of fire,” Mr. Olukolade, a brigadier-general, said.
Residents around the attacked Nigeria Air-force base said the attack started about 2:30 a.m. when gun shots and multiple explosions were heard echoing all over the city.
Military sources had told PREMIUM TIMES in Maiduguri that they saw more than 500 insurgents riding in various trucks, including an armoured personnel carrier, chanting Islamic slogans and shooting randomly during the apparently well coordinated attack.
Mr. Olukolade also said that security forces are in pursuit of the terrorists in the Djemtillo general area along the Maiduguri/Banishek axis.
He advised citizens to report any of the fleeing insurgents, most of who could be identified with gunshot wounds whenever they are sighted.
The spokesperson said normal flight operations to and from the Maiduguri Airport, which were earlier temporarily disrupted, have resumed.
When contacted on the current status of the international airport, aviation spokesperson, Yakubu Datti, said aviation authorities have “shut down all operations,” at the airport.
Mr. Datti, however, explained, after the military’s statement, that the emergency rule in Borno meant the airport and indeed the state was being decided for by the military.
“They (the military) have taken over, if they have resumed (airport operations), fine; Because you know there’s a state of emergency in the state, everything in the state is under the military,” he said