Nigerian security sources say they have seen signs that Islamist Boko Haram militants may be planning a massive attack on Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, less than a week after Nigerian soldiers repelled a daring attack and handed the insurgents a costly defeat last Sunday.
Security and local sources told SaharaReporters that Boko Haram terrorists appeared to be regrouping to overrun the strategic northeast city before commencement of Nigeria’s general elections due to start on February 14.
Before the Islamist fighters struck last Sunday, residents of some communities near Maiduguri said they had alerted the Nigerian military that some insurgents were approaching along the Dambua-Biu road near Allahganrino village. According to the reported informants, the military had apparently paid no heed to their warnings. A day later, Boko Haram attacked Maiduguri.
A soldier who fled Monguno, a town that was also attacked on Sunday and seized by the insurgents, told SaharaReporters that the militants used to say when they would storm towns and military barracks and carry out such threats. He criticized commanders who boast about working on intelligence, saying they had nothing to show for such ostensible intelligence.
“We should stop defending all the time. There is [an] urgent need for a counter-offensive against Boko Haram,” said a military source. He alleged that the Islamist militants forewarned about their attacks on Baga and Monguno, adding that he had experienced such pre-attack warnings three times.
A resident of a village near Maiduguri told SaharaReporters that he and other residents had seen a large number of Boko Haram militants arriving along Dikwa road in sports utility vehicles, motorcycles and camels, adding that they had alerted military authorities as well.
“We have received tips from some of the locals that they have sighted the militants,” a security operative in the beleaguered city told our correspondent.
A member of the civilian joint task force combating the Islamist militants said many of the local people “have vowed to join in the fight to flush Boko Haram out. We are not going to take things [lightly] with them. We are ready for them [Boko Haram fighters]. Since they want to die, we shall kill them.”
However, some residents of Maiduguri say they have not been able to “sleep with two eyes closed since last Sunday,” as one of them stated. He added that the fall of Monguno barracks meant that the militants now control various types of deadly weapons, including artillery weapons with capacity to fire from long distances. “We don’t know when they will come again, but they have the weapons to cause major havoc,” said the resident.