Troops are already present in large numbers in Nigeria’s north-east. Nigeria’s army has begun operations against militant Islamists in the north-east, military officials say. They say troops raided parts of a game reserve in Borno statewhere the Boko Haram group has established bases.
The raids came after states of emergency were declared in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa north-eastern states, where 2,000 people have died since Boko Haram launched an insurgency in 2009.
Meanwhile, explosions and gunfire have been heard overnight in Katsina state. Residents have told the BBC that banks, police stations and prisons were destroyed in the town of Daura, near the border with
Niger. Details of casualties are not yet known. Mobile phone networks were not functioning in many parts of north-eas Nigeria on Thursday, but the BBC’s Will Ross in Abuja says it is not clear if this is related to the current military offensive.
Militants have previously attacked mobile phone masts in the area in an effort to disrupt communications.
Mobile phones down: On Thursday soldiers raided “terrorist camps” in the Sambisa Game Reserve, a remote 500 sq km (200sq mile) savannah in Borno that is known to be a haven for Boko Haram militants, officials are quoted as saying.
In January, the military said it had deployed helicopter gunships to destroy Boko Haram camps in the same park. Nigerian military spokesman Brig Gen Chris Olukolade said “several thousand” troops had been sent to the three north-easternstates to tackle Boko Haram.
He told the AFP news agency that the “entire Nigerian military is involved in this operation, including the air force”. “Air strikes will be used when necessary,” he said. A dusk-to-dawn curfew has been imposed in Adamawa to curb militant attacks.
The BBC’s Abdullahi Tasiu Abubakar in Adamawa city says many there feel the curfew is unnecessary, as the security situation there is less serious than in Borno and Yobe. Our reporter adds that there is no sign of a huge military build-up in the city since President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency on Tuesday in the three states.
The president said the army would take “all necessary action” to “put an end to the impunity of insurgents and terrorists”. Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is forbidden” in the local Hausa language, is fighting to overthrow the government and create an Islamic state in the north.
Although they often attack Christians and government targets, they have also killed many Muslim civilians.