At least 19 people were killed on Tuesday in explosive attacks and gun battles that rocked the restive northern part of Nigeria, officials say.
According to reports, the violence, blamed on the Boko Haram terrorist sect, erupted in Kano and Maiduguri where gunmen carried out targeted attacks against Joint Task Force operatives and policemen.
JTF officers say they killed 16 suspected militants in a raid in Lawan Bukar, Maiduguri where the fighting was heaviest. Residents in the area told news agencies that they began to evacuate that site of the attack on Monday, long before Tuesday’s gun duel, when they got wind of a possible JTF raid.
“Some suspected Boko Haram terrorists attempted to open fire on (security) operatives but could not succeed. We have so far shot dead 16 of the terrorists during a shoot-out,” field operations officer for the state, Colonel Victor Ebhaleme, told Reuters news agency.
Ebhaleme added that weapons and ammunition were recovered from suspects and home-made IEDs were destroyed in controlled explosions.
The Military spokesman assured that there were no casualties on its side; however, residents in the area at the time of the attack say some civilians were caught in the crossfire.
“I almost got home, but I saw soldiers shooting and I had to run back on foot,” a man living in the neighbourhood told the AP. He spoke on condition of anonymity as he feared angering either the military or Boko Haram.
“The crowded neighborhood, called Lawan Bukar, is close to the palace of the region’s traditional ruler, the Shehu of Borno. It also is an area where suspected Boko Haram members recently beheaded two civilians and shot dead a politician,” the AP reported.
Meanwhile, in Kano, gunmen also suspected to be part of the sect shot and killed a retired deputy inspector general of police and two other police officers.
The retired DIG was reported to be returning from his factory located in the Kawaji surbub when unknown gunmen laid an abush and kill him, the Vanguard reported.
The murders were confirmed by Kano state police spokesman, Rilwanu Tanimu Dutse.