Nigerian troops close Maiduguri-Damaturu highway amidst fresh Boko Haram attacks
Nigerian troops have closed the only safe highway that leads into Maiduguri, the Borno state capital, following a series of attacks on the route by Boko Haram insurgents in the last 48 hours.
It is not yet clear how long the closure will last, but motorists said they were stopped from plying the route early Wednesday.
There are six major highways that takes travellers in and out of Maiduguri. But with the capture of territories and displacement of residents from their communities in 2014, all the five roads were closed by the military due to security concerns.
At the peak of its attacks, Boko Haram bombed bridges on the major routes leading to Maiduguri, except the Maiduguri-Kano highway that links the state capital with the Yobe state capital, Damaturu.
Since 2014, soldiers and the police have battled to prevent Boko Haram from attacking the Benishek Bridge which is the only bridge on the 135km-long road linking Maiduguri and Damaturu. Benishek is the headquarters of Kaga local government area of Borno state.
The military and residents feared that should the Maiduguri-Damaturu Road fall under the control of Boko Haram, the insurgents would have effectively won the war because the Borno State capital would have been practically cut off from all access by land.
Even after the military from December 2017 through early 2018, opened up most of the roads that were taken by Boko Haram, travelling on them still required heavy military escort.
On Christmas Day, three weeks ago, suspected Boko Haram gunmen carried out a major attack on a military base located at Kukareta village of Yobe state, along the Maiduguri-Damaturu highway, where they burnned down the camp and dislodged the checkpoint being manned by soldiers there.
On Monday, Boko Haram insurgents carried out yet another attack on Auno village, 25km away from Maiduguri.
The attack, which was confirmed by the Theatre Commander of the Operation Lafiya Dole, Benson Akinroluyo, a major general, occurred at about 6 p.m. on Monday. (Premium Times)