Nigeria bombs Boko Haram bases
07 September 2014, 10:18
Abuja - Nigerian warplanes are carrying out air strikes against Boko Haram militant bases in northeast Borno state, a senior official says.
It is reportedly a government counter-attack against the group's apparent drive to create an Islamist enclave.
The official said Nigeria's military was battling Boko Haram fighters at Bama, 70km southeast of the Borno state capital Maiduguri.
Air strikes have been carried out "on all the Boko Haram bases", the official said, adding this reflected President Goodluck Jonathan's order for a "fully-fledged war" against the group which has waged a bloody insurgency since 2009.
Military officials have denied reports Bama had been overrun by heavily armed militants after they attacked it with captured military vehicles and pick-up trucks mounted with machine guns, all part of a growing Boko Haram arsenal.
The battle over Bama, and Boko Haram's storming of towns and villages to the north, east and south of Maiduguri in recent weeks, has raised fears of an attack on the Borno state capital, prompting hundreds of civilians to flee.
Boko Haram, whose leader Abubakar Shekau last month declared a "Muslim territory" in the northeast after capturing the town of Gwoza on the Cameroon border, is believed to be trying to mimic the example of Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria and Iraq which announced the creation of a separate caliphate there.
Jonathan's government, which faces an election in February, has come under sharpening public criticism for its apparent inability to check Boko Haram's five-year insurgency, which has ravaged the poor northeast corner of Africa's biggest economy.