Boko Haram attacks northeast Nigerian city, bomb kills many

Boko Haram attacked the northeastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri

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Boko Haram attacked the northeastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri on Tuesday with deafening explosions from the west and a suicide bombing near the center that witnesses said killed as many as 20 people.

The attack began in the early hours of the morning when residents were wakened by booming explosions, heavy gunfire and the screech of a fighter jet scrambled to protect the town.

"We are under siege," Sumaila Ayuba, her voice shaking, told The Associated Press by telephone just after midnight from her home on the city's western flank. "The shooting is quite deafening. Please we need prayers."

Hours later, a man blew himself up at Gamboru cattle market, according to witnesses who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals. One said he counted at least 20 bodies.

More than 30 people died in attacks over the weekend.

Boko Haram's 6-year-old uprising aimed at imposing Shariah law across Nigeria - a country of 170 million half of whom - has killed some 13,000 people and driven 1.5 million from their homes.

President Muhammadu Buhari announced at his inauguration on Friday that he is moving the military headquarters of the war from Abuja, the capital in central Nigeria, to Maiduguri. The capital of Borno state is also the birthplace of the Boko Haram Islamic extremist group and the biggest city in northeastern Nigeria.

Buhari, a retired major-general who was briefly a military dictator in the 1980s, was set to hold on Tuesday his first meeting with military service chiefs, amid speculation that there will be changes in the war against Boko Haram.

On Wednesday he travels to Chad and Niger, whose troops help fight Boko Haram, said his spokesman Garba Shehu. It is Buhari's first official trip outside Nigeria. Chad and Niger had complained of a lack of cooperation with the previous administration.

Hit-and-run attacks on villages and bombings are ongoing, weeks after the military announced that a multinational offensive had forced Boko Haram from the towns and villages where it had declared "an Islamic caliphate."

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