Originally published on December 3, 2013
Militants from Islamic extremist group Boko Haram attacked a Nigerian air base in the far northeast of the country in an early morning raid on Monday (December 2). Reports say at least 100 militant fighters drove trucks and a stolen armoured personnel carrier in the just-before-dawn attack that left scores of militants and soldiers dead.
The Boko Haram fighters successfully destroyed two military helicopters as other military infrastructure. Reports say the city's civilian airport as well as a residential and public buildings also came under attack.
The militants allegedly planted some 300 explosives around the city where the air base is located and soldiers and police fanned out, setting up roadblocks and sending out teams to search for bombs.
While as many as 100 fighters may have been killed by airstrikes called in by the Nigerian military, local officials and experts say the attack represents a significant setback for the military, which had been moving forward with a campaign against Boko Haram, which was founded in the city of Maiduguri where the attack took place.
Boko Haram seeks to establish an Islamic state over all of Nigeria, a nation of almost 170 million people. Northern Nigeria is mainly Muslim while the south is predominantly Christian. The group has launched scores of attacks across Nigeria in recent years, targeting Christian places of worship, schools and military establishments. Over the weekend 24 people were killed and 15 injured in clashes with Boko Haram members who were allegedly attempting to smuggle weapons into neighboring Chad.
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