Kano, Nigeria: A suspected Boko Haram attack on a military base and police station in northeastern Nigeria left at least 33 people dead, a security source told AFP on Wednesday.
The source, who requested anonymity, said 18 soldiers and 15 police lost their lives in the assault in the town of Buni Yadi, in Yobe state, at about 8pm (1900 GMT) on Monday.
“The militants arrived in vans wearing military uniform and went to the army barracks overlooking the police station,” the source added.
“They were mistaken for soldiers and the soldiers opened the gates. They then began the attack.”
Multiple witnesses told AFP on Tuesday that the insurgents fired first on soldiers manning a checkpoint before razing the local police station.
The home of a local government leader and several government buildings were then torched before they turned their guns on an empty primary school.
Details were slow to emerge because of poor mobile phone reception in the area, where the militants, who are seeking to establish an Islamic state in northern Nigeria, have destroyed much of the telecommunication infrastructure.
Boko Haram gunmen on April 14 seized more than 200 schoolgirls from the northeastern town of Chibok, provoking international outrage.
A boarding school in Buni Yadi was also attacked in February this year. Suspected Boko Haram militants stormed the Federal Government College and killed more than 40 students as they slept.
Yobe has been under a state of emergency since May last year with neighbouring Borno and Adamawa states.
The source said the authorities had received reports of an impending attack on the state capital Damaturu and security had been increased but it was not clear whether the city or Buni Yadi was the real target.
‘Time running out’
Nigeria faces a race against time to tackle its worsening security situation, which has spread in scale and scope affecting all walks of life, an influential governor told AFP in an interview.
Kano state governor Rabiu Kwankwaso said the country was unprepared for the level of violence from Boko Haram Islamists and that a lack of political leadership had allowed the situation to worsen.
“Time is running out. Something has to be done, especially (in) the northeastern part of this country,” Kwankwaso, a former defence minister under president Olusegun Obasanjo, said late on Tuesday.
Kwankwaso, a leading figure in the main opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), was one of a number of governors from the mainly Muslim north to switch allegiance from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party last year.
The defections, which also led to a number of lawmakers crossing the floor in parliament, threatening President Goodluck Jonathan’s majority, were attributed in part to the head of state’s perceived indifference to the north.
Kwankwaso said social and economic inequalities in the region compared to the richer, oil-producing south, had helped fuel the insurgency and needed to be tackled.
But he claimed that Jonathan did not heed advice to pay more attention to the problems such as poverty, unemployment and illiteracy.
Nigeria was “reaping the consequences” as a result, he added.
Kwankwaso said he welcomed the help of “friendly countries” in the search for more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram fighters last month.