HARUNA UMAR, Associated Press
MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) — Two suicide bombers killed an Air Force officer at a checkpoint in a late-night attack in Nigeria’s northeastern city of Maiduguri, witnesses and police said Wednesday.
They blamed the attack on Boko Haram Islamic extremists responsible for a slew of such attacks that have killed hundreds this year in Nigeria and neighboring Cameroon, Chad and Niger.
Tuesday night’s explosion occurred hours after Nigeria’s military ordered officers to report for duty to a new multinational army based in N’Djamena, Chad’s capital, to launch a long-delayed offensive against Nigeria’s home-grown insurgents.
Police Commissioner Aderemi Opadokun said a lieutenant died and a woman was injured when two suicide bombers approached a checkpoint and one exploded. Both bombers died, he said.
The explosion occurred at a traffic circle leading to Maiduguri’s international airport, which was closed for months after a December 2014 Boko Haram attack in which several Air Force aircraft were destroyed.
Travelers were forced to use roads made dangerous by frequent insurgent attacks until the airport was reopened in July, after troops from Chad and Nigeria drove the extremists out of some 25 towns held for months in what they had declared an Islamic caliphate. The insurgents have returned to hit-and-run tactics and suicide bombings.
In one bold attack last week, the extremists ambushed the lead vehicle in a convoy carrying Nigeria’s new chief of army staff. One soldier and five attackers were killed in a firefight there.
More than 1,000 people have been killed since President Muhammadu Buhari was elected in March with a pledge to annihilate the militants, whose 6-year-old uprising has killed a total of about 20,000 people. Nearly 2 million have been driven from their homes, some across borders.
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