People wearing red gather for a prayer vigil for the
release of abducted secondary school girls in the remote
village of Chibok, in Lagos. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye
Boko Haram gunmen have attacked a Nigerian military base
and adjacent police barracks in the northeastern town of Buni
Yadi, killing 31 security personnel, security sources and
The attack late on Monday in Yobe state occurred not far from
where the Islamist insurgents shot or burned to death 59
pupils at a boarding school in February.
The militants, whose violent struggle for an Islamic state in
northern Nigeria has killed thousands and made them the
biggest threat to security in Africa's top oil-producing
state, are still holding more than 200 girls kidnapped on
April 14, an act which provoked international outrage.
Yobe police spokesman Nansak Chegwam said he was aware of the
attack but could provide no further details.
A resident of Buni Yadi, who identified himself only as
Mustafa for fear of retribution, said the militants arrived
in an armoured personnel carrier and six Toyota pickup trucks
before dismounting and firing into the air.
They fired rocket propelled grenades at both bases.
A senior security source in Yobe state said 17 soldiers were
killed and 14 police officers also died.
In what has become rare for a movement that has killed
thousands of civilians in the past year, Boko Harm called out
to people on the street not to run away as they had only come
for the security forces, Mustafa and the security source
The insurgents also razed the police barracks, the army base,
the high court and residence of district head Abba Hassan.
"One was shouting in English to the others: 'Let's go, let's
go. Finish this and let's go'," a policeman who escaped the
attack and fled to the state capital Damturu said.
From being a religious movement opposed to Western culture -
Boko Haram means "Western education is a sin" in the northern
Hausa language - the sect has emerged as a well armed, fully
A military offensive launched a year ago against Boko Haram,
which initially seemed to be working, appears to have left
the group stronger than ever. The insurgents occupy a vast,
hilly terrain along the border with Cameroon, from where they
have repeatedly launched devastating hit and run strikes.
Nigeria and its neighbours say Boko Haram now threatens the
security of the whole region.
Cameroon has deployed armoured vehicles and some 1,000 troops
to its border region with Nigeria to counter the rising
Chief of Defence Staff Air Marshal Alex Badeh said on Tuesday
the military knew where the abducted girls were but ruled out
using force to rescue them for fear of endangering their
On Tuesday the United States said it did not have independent
information to confirm Nigeria's claim to know the
whereabouts of kidnapped girls.
Since the girls were captured, according to a Reuters count,
at least 470 civilians have been killed in various locations
at the hands of Boko Haram, which has said it wants to
reinstate a medieval Islamic caliphate in Africa's most
Nigeria accepted help from the United States, Britain, France
and China last week and around 80 U.S. troops have arrived in
neighbouring Chad to start a mission to try to free the
girls. Surveillance drones are scanning the Sambisa forest,
where parents say the girls were last sighted.