Multiple blasts near Nigeria's Maiduguri, army blames drills
File photo: Bombing in Azare
Multiple explosions were heard Sunday on the outskirts of Maiduguri, a city in northeastern Nigeria that has repeatedly been attacked by Boko Haram jihadists, local residents said.
But the army said the blasts, which caused some panicked residents to flee, were a result of the test-firing of weapons during military exercises in the area.
Residents said the explosions were heard from from the areas of Kayamla and Dalori, three days after the insurgents attacked Maiduguri, leaving 10 people dead and many more injured.
“We are not sure whether the terrorists are planning to invade the town but the sound vibrating is devastating,” said Kursi Yusuf, an employee at the University of Maiduguri.
Khadija Mustapha, a resident of Dalori Quarters, 11 kilometres from Maiduguri, said she had fled her home with her three daughters for fear of being caught in the explosions.
“I don’t know what will happen. The sound of the explosives is really disturbing,” she said. “Many of us… have vacated our homes.”
But the army said it was conducting military exercises in the volatile city and urged residents not to panic.
“It is a routine test-firing of our weapons to ensure they are in a state of readiness,” Colonel Tukur Gusau, spokesman for the Nigerian 7 Division in Maiduguri, told AFP.
Earlier a military officer who did not want to be named had confirmed the series of blasts but said troops were on top of the situation.
“The terrorists will not have their way,” he told AFP.
Residents were on edge after at least 10 people were killed and 39 others injured on Thursday night when four suicide bombers blew themselves up in the Maiduguri.
On September 20, 117 people were killed in a wave of attacks blamed on the Islamists.
Boko Haram has also extended its campaigns of terror beyond its stronghold in northeastern Nigeria.
In the capital Abuja, at least 18 people were killed and 41 wounded when multiple blasts rocked crowded districts of the city on Friday night.
Nigeria’s military has claimed a series of successes against Boko Haram in recent weeks, which has led many to fear an increase in attacks against civilians in the northeast.
The conflict has claimed more than 1,260 lives in Nigeria alone since President Muhammadu Buhari took office on May 29, according to an AFP tally.
At least 17,000 people have been killed and more than 2.5 million made homeless since the Boko Haram insurgency began in 2009.
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