Boko Haram fighters staged gun and suicide bomb attacks on a military camp outside a university in Nigeria’s northeastern Borno state, the emergency services said on Monday.
The insurgents attacked the camp’s outlying the perimeter wall of the University of Maiduguri at around 8:30 p.m. on Sunday, September 15, forcing troops to withdraw before a bomber detonated his explosives.
Maiduguri is the birthplace of the Boko Haram movement and has been repeatedly attacked by the group. Known as UniMaid, the university campus is on the outskirts of the city, on the road southeast to Bama.
“We evacuated the remains of a suicide bomber who blew himself up inside the lodging used by soldiers guarding the rear parameter of the university,” said Bello Dambatta, the Head of the Rapid Response Team of the Borno State Emergency Management Agency.
“Luckily no soldier was hurt in the attack as there were no troops inside the building at the time,” Danbatta told AFP.
The fighters had waded through deep trenches dug around the university fence to stave off Boko Haram incursions.
“Everybody ran out of the hostels, thinking the university was under attack because the sounds and explosion were very close,” said student Rebecca Simon.
She said the students only returned to their hostels after the sounds of gunfire stopped.
The gunshots lasted for about an hour and a half, Premium Times reported.
Video of military reinforcements arriving on Sunday night was shared on social media.
Military and CJTF reinforcement have arrived university of Maiduguri.
Borno State Governor Zulum arrived 30/+mins ago . pic.twitter.com/658F69AHqS
— Murtala (@MurtalaIbin) September 16, 2019
Borno state Governor Babagana Umara Zulum visited the university on Monday after what he described as the “failed attack.”
“I have directed the Commissioner of works to immediately mobilise excavators to enlarge [the] trench that surrounds the university,” Zulum tweeted.
“We will also provide surveillance gadgets to the security personnels for effective and efficient vigilance,” he added.
Boko Haram is notorious for attacking public schools as well as mosques, motor parks and markets. The informal name “Boko Haram” is a phrase in the Hausa language that roughly translates as “western education is forbidden.”
The faction led by Abubakar Shekau is active in the area southeast of Maiduguri.
In July at least two people were killed and others injured when Boko Haram fighters raided a nearby camp for people displaced by conflict. After attacking a nearby military base, dozens of militants stormed into the camp at Dalori, around 9 km (6 miles) southeast of the university campus, shooting people and looting food supplies.
In February last year, the insurgents carried out a botched suicide attack on the Maiduguri campus which killed the bomber.
A decade of Islamist insurgency
The jihadist group known as Boko Haram began its bloody insurgency in northeastern Nigeria in 2009, but it has since spread into neighboring Niger, Chad and Cameroon, prompting a regional military response.
Boko Haram split into two factions in mid-2016. One, led by long-time leader Abubakar Shekau, is notorious for suicide bombings and indiscriminate killings of civilians. Shekau pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi in March 2015, but ISIS central only gives formal backing to the other faction, which it calls Islamic State West Africa Province. The ISWAP faction largely focuses on attacking military and government targets.
ISWAP began to intensify attacks on Nigerian military targets in July 2018, killing dozens of soldiers, overrunning bases and capturing towns. The Lake Chad area of Nigeria, Chad and Niger, where it is the dominant insurgent group, has seen particularly fierce fighting, but it has also claimed or been blamed for attacks in the Maduguri area and further west.
Last Thursday, at least six soldiers and a civilian militia leader were killed in ISWAP attacks on four towns north of Maiduguri. That came just three days after Nigerian soldiers were killed in an ISWAP ambush on a military convoy near Gudumbali further north. ISIS claimed ISWAP fighters ambushed the convoy and struck another military position near the village of Garunda.
The U.S. assesses that Boko Haram and ISWAP have been responsible for more than 35,000 deaths since 2011. More than two million people have been displaced, sparking a dire humanitarian crisis in the region.
With reporting from AFP