The Defence Headquaters (DHQ) said 24 terrorists were killed and many were also injured. The military lost three decommissioned jets and two helicopters while two Air Force men were wounded, during the exchange of fire, according to Director of Defence Information (DDI), Brig. Gen. Chris Olukolade.
Properties estimated at millions of Naira were destroyed.
The DHQ also announced the resumption of normal flight operations to and from the airport which were temporarily disrupted as a result of the attacks.
Residents said the insurgents came in fortified with armoured tanks. The seriousness of the attacks informed the emergency security meeting President Goodluck Jonathan had with the Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim, the National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) and service chiefs yesterday.
Maiduguri has enjoyed relative peace since early June when six Boko Haram insurgents were apprehended by unarmed youths. Since then, there have not been any major attack in the state capitals Residents said, “there would have been heavy casualty if the insurgents had attempted to attack civilians.”
Hundreds of the terrorists invaded the city through the western axis in what residents described as well-coordinated attacks that lasted between 2.30am and about 8am. The insurgents attacked the 333 Artillery Regiment Barracks of the Nigerian Army, the 79 Composite Group of the Nigerian Air Force and police stations along the Maiduguri-Damaturu Road. They also torched some petrol stations, fuel tankers, trailers park and a motor park (Tarson Journey) on the same road.
Residents said they started hearing heavy bombardment around the area at about 2.30am. “I live at Bulumkutu not far from the Air Force base. I started hearing sounds like bomb blast and shooting at about 2.30am which continued till this morning. Everybody around my area was awake and terrified because we didn’t even know what was happening. It was later at about 5am that a military helicopter started hovering around our areas and it continued till about 8am,” another resident, who did not want his name in print, told Daily Sun.
A police source said the insurgents were dressed in Air Force camouflage, adding that they were armed with sophisticated weapons including Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs). “They operated till about 8am and it was the military fighter jet deployed from Yola, Adamawa State that dislodged them right in front of the Air Force base. It was a heavy bombardment by the insurgents and they would have continued moving into the city if they had not been curtailed. They came with a VVL, an armoured tank and there are women among them,” the source disclosed. Schools, markets and commercials institutions that had earlier in the day opened were compelled to shut down as the government imposed a 24 hours curfew on the metropolis.
A statement signed by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Amb Baba Ahmad Jidda, the state government in consultation with the Army decided to impose the curfew on the state capital and its environs. “The Borno State Government in consultation with the GOC 7 Division, Nigerian Army has decided to impose a 24 hours curfew on Maiduguri Metropolitan Council and environs starting from 11am today Monday, December 2, 2013.
“The imposition of the curfew is necessitated by an attack in Maiduguri by people suspected to be Boko Haram members in the early hours of today. During the period of curfew, Borno State Government pleads with all citizens to remain calm and law-abiding until the situation is put under control as the security agencies will do everything possible to maintain lives and property of the citizenry. Only vehicles on emergency calls and essential services are allowed to move during the period,” the state said.
In a statement, spokesman of the 7 Army Division, Colonel Muhammad Dole, confirmed the attacks. “In the early hours of Monday, December 2, 2013, Boko Haram terrorists attempted to gain access to own locations (military formations) in the metropolis. However, troops of the 7 Division of the Nigerian Army have successfully repelled the insurgents and inflicted serious casualties on them. The situation around Njamtilo and Maiduguri International Airport general areas are calm and under control,” he said even as he decline further comment on the incident.
An apparently sad Gov Kashim Shettima during his assessment tour of the damaged military and police facilities described the attack as satanic, promising that government will rebuild all structures burnt or destroyed by the insurgents. “We are going to replace all buildings destroyed by the insurgents even if they destroy them hundred times. The good thing is that the Commander of the Air Force base (79 Composite Group) has briefed me that no life was lost, but some servicemen were injured. The Commissioner of Police has also told me same thing. I know we shall overcome this problem and all the satanic ideology of this group in the soonest of time.”
Three military aircraft within the premises of the 79 Composite Group Air Force base as well as other facilities, structures; clinic and offices were burnt down by the insurgents.
Similar situation was witnessed at the 333 Artillery of the Nigerian Army as almost all the structures including offices, sentry, barracks, mess and about 10 vehicles were burnt. The Bulumkutu Police Station and a police outpost at 777 Housing Estate were also destroyed. The Divisional Police Officer (DPO) while briefing the governor in the presence of the Commissioner of Police, Lawan Tanko said the insurgents wore Air Force camouflage, adding that he had initially thought they were Air Force men until he later realized they were enemies. “I was even telling them I am the DPO until I noticed that they are enemies. So, I ordered my men to lie down because they were very armed.”
Two residents of a house opposite the Air Force base were also shot dead by the insurgents. When reporters visited the house yesterday afternoon, the family of the deceased were preparing the corpses for burial. A neighbour of the deceased, Bala Mohammed, said the insurgents had entered a patent medicine store opposite the Air Force base and shot dead a young man operating the shop.
“The boy was still sleeping this morning in the shop with his machete beside him when the insurgents entered the shop. They shot him dead immediately and went into the house at the back where they saw a pick-up vehicle loaded with bags of beans. They asked the man to surrender the key to the vehicle but he declined and he was shot. Unfortunately the operator of the chemist was a younger brother to the man with the pick-up van,” he explained.
He claimed the insurgents even observed their early morning (Zubhur) Muslim prayers in a mosque opposite the Air Force base, before they later went into the patent medicine shop and the house to kill the two brothers.