A wave of attacks across northern Nigeria, including two on Monday — a suicide bombing at a market and an assault on security facilities — showed that the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram remained able to strike at will in the region, especially against civilian targets.
The most recent attacks attributed to the group occurred in Maiduguri and Damaturu, state capitals in the northeast. Boko Haram, which has its roots in the area, has struck those cities repeatedly over the past five years.
The attacks followed a bombing on Friday in a central mosque in Kano, the principal city of northern Nigeria; 120 people were killed in that attack.
It was not clear yet on Monday evening how many people were killed in Maiduguri, where women detonated suicide bombs in the city’s biggest market. A similar bombing by two women last Tuesday killed at least 45 people.
Witnesses said that despite that earlier attack, no troops were guarding the market on Monday. The Nigerian Army has repeatedly been criticized for its reticence in confronting the Islamist militants, and when military personnel arrived at the scene after the explosions on Monday, they were shouted down by angry youths and told to leave, witnesses said.
The Damaturu attack was a raid by Boko Haram on military, police and government facilities that began before dawn. Residents cowered indoors all morning while gunfire rang out, witnesses said.
The militants were eventually driven out, with the aid of a Nigerian military jet, but not before they burned what remained of a police facility that was attacked and damaged a year ago. The attackers also tried to reach Government House, the seat of the Yobe State government in Damaturu.
The Boko Haram fighters, who obtain most of their weapons by seizing them from the Nigerian military, appeared to be trying to get military equipment stockpiled in the city. Officials and witnesses said the raid had failed, though the gunfire went on for hours. “The security effort is still ongoing,” a spokesman for the Yobe State governor said in a statement Monday afternoon.