Families and non-military staff residing in two major military barracks in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, are being evacuated after Islamist insurgents dropped letters announcing their plan to take the most important city in Nigeria’s northeast region. The letters were dropped at the gates of Giwa and Maimalari military barracks as well as different parts of the city of Maiduguri.
Several soldiers also told SaharaReporters that some of their colleagues had fled the barracks after the letters were circulated amongst military personnel yesterday. A military officer at Defense Headquarters in Abuja said he was not aware of any desertions.
The letter detailing the planned attack on Maiduguri was written in the Hausa language. It specifies that Boko Haram’s unpredictable leader, Abubakar Shekau, planned to personally lead insurgent fighters to attack Maimalari, the more formidable of the two barracks, and to fight to the death as a martyr.
“Soldiers are moving their wives and children out because they should not be there if a battle begins,” a security source said.
Boko Haram appears emboldened by its success in capturing Bama, the second largest city in Borno State. The Nigerian army and officials of Borno State were so rattled by the insurgents’ seizure of Bama that they claimed for two days that the town remained under Nigerian troops’ control. However, a senior official of the Borno State government told SaharaReporters yesterday that there was no doubt that Bama had fallen to the insurgents. A senior United States official also acknowledged the capture of the town by insurgents, and disclosed that the US would provide logistical assistance to the Nigerian government to help secure Maiduguri.
Yesterday, the Islamist terrorists began an apparent push towards Maiduguri by killing some 30 people near Kawuri town. They now have just an army checkpoint in Konduga standing between them and Maiduguri, a city with more than two million residents.