Mon Jan 9, 2017 02:27PM
Residents gather near the scene of a bomb attack on a market in Maiduguri, Nigeria, December 11, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
Residents gather near the scene of a bomb attack on a market in Maiduguri, Nigeria, December 11, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Five suspected members of the Boko Haram Takfiri terrorist group and three civilians have been killed after the terrorists detonated their explosive vests in Nigeria’s northeastern province of Borno, police say.

According to deputy superintendent Victor Isuku, two separate attacks, one by a female duo and the other by three men, were conducted in the eastern outskirts of the provincial capital Maiduguri, some 10 kilometers apart from each other, late on Sunday.

He added that the three male assailants, wearing explosive-laden vests, approached a military checkpoint while firing assault rifles. One of them detonated his explosives, killing all three plus a pro-government anti-terror fighter.

Some two hours later, two female bombers set off their explosives, killing themselves and two unidentified people passing close by them.   

Nobody has so far claimed responsibility for the deadly attacks but they bear the hallmarks of the ultra-violent group.

In recent months, army troops and civilian fighters in Nigeria have managed to foil many bomb attacks involving terrorists wearing explosive vests before the assailants were able to reach heavily-populated targets and detonate their bombs of their own accord.

Last month, however, two women, with Boko Haram, killed 57 people and injured 177, including 120 children, after they detonated their explosive vests at a bustling market at Madagali, the capital city of the neighboring province of Adamawa.

At dusk on Saturday, a group of Boko Haram terrorists launched an attack on a military base in the town of Buni Yadi, in the northeastern province of Yobe, leading to an “intense battle”, which killed at least five soldiers, including a newly-deployed captain.

The attack, however, was “repelled” by army troops, said Lieutenant George Okupe, a spokesman for the Buni Yadi base.

The town, situated some 65 kilometers from the provincial capital Damaturu, fell into the hands of the terror group in February 2014 after terrorists launched a deadly night assault on a boys’ boarding school, torching the building while students were asleep. At least 43 students lost their lives in the arson attack.

The government troops, however, regained the control of the town in a bloody battle in March last year, after Boko Haram terrorists had sacked the town.

Soldiers of the 7th Division of the Nigerian army prepare to leave Maiduguri in a heavily armed convoy on the road to Damboa in the northeastern state of Borno, Nigeria, March 25, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Boko Haram terrorists started their reign of terror in 2009 with the aim of toppling the Nigerian government. In their heyday in early 2015, they managed to control an area in the country’s northeast as vast as Belgium, but they lost most of that territory over the last year as the Nigerian government, along with troops from some affected neighboring countries such as Chad and Cameroon, launched a joint military campaign to eradicate the militant group.

Large areas of Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe are still almost inaccessible and cannot be reached by aid agencies due to violence by militants. People in the three states are reportedly in need of emergency food aid.

During the past several months, Boko Haram, which was mainly pushed deep inside the lush Sambisa Forest, a former colonial game reserve, has resorted to carrying out sporadic raids against villages and bomb attacks against civilians in urban areas, killing hundreds of people.

On December 24, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who came to power in 2015 with a pledge to eradicate Boko Haram, announced that the army had “crushed” the terror group a day earlier by retaking its last key bastion, deep inside the thick forest in Borno.

Boko Haram has so far killed more than 20,000 people and forced over 2.7 million others from their homes.