'Explosions, gunfire in Nigeria`s Damaturu city'

Explosions and gunfire rocked the north Nigerian city of Damaturu on Monday, in a suspected Boko Haram attack that targeted police, residents told AFP.

Kano: Explosions and gunfire rocked the north Nigerian city of Damaturu on Monday, in a suspected Boko Haram attack that targeted police, residents told AFP.

The sound of blasts and heavy weapons being fired woke locals in the Gujba Road area of the Yobe state capital at about 4:45 am (0345 GMT), said Umar Sada, who lives in the area.

"We have left our homes. We are now in the bush. We don`t know what`s going to happen," said Sada, who added that a police barracks had been destroyed.

Another local resident, a government official who asked not to be identified, said: "It`s chaos all over the town.

"All I can hear is explosions and gunfire from my house. I couldn`t go out for morning prayers because this started before dawn and I`m afraid to leave in case I get caught up in it."

The raid came after a suicide bomb and gun attack on the central mosque in the northern city of Kano on Friday which bore all the hallmarks of Boko Haram and left at least 120 people dead.

The militants, who have been waging a five-year rebellion to create a hardline Islamic state in northeast Nigeria, have conducted similar dawn raids and attacked Damaturu before.

On June 18, at least 21 football fans were killed when a bomb exploded as they watched a World Cup finals match at a public viewing centre.

Boko Haram claimed responsibility for an October 24 attack on Damaturu, in which four police buildings were attacked with guns and explosives and there was an hours-long gun battle with the security forces.

Thirty people, all thought to be soldiers, were killed.

Yobe was one of three states worst-affected by the violence that was placed under a state of emergency in May 2013.

Nigeria`s President Goodluck Jonathan last month requested an extension to the special powers but a deadline for its renewal has passed.

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