Suspected Boko Haram militants on Tuesday hurled explosives in Nigeria’s troubled northeastern city of Maiduguri, killing five police officers, while a separate blast killed three.
The attacks were the latest to hit the Borno state capital, which is the epicentre of Boko Haram’s brutal insurgency which has killed thousands since 2009, including more than 700 this year.
In two separate incidents, a moving car packed with explosives blew up in Maiduguri’s Government Farm Area at 7:50 am (0650 GMT), killing three civilians, Borno police spokesman Gideon Jibrin said.
The vehicle “was obviously meant to be used against (a) target somewhere in the city”, he said, but exploded prematurely for reasons that were not immediately clear.
It was not yet possible to determine if there was anyone other than the driver inside the vehicle because “it was so mangled and burnt”, Jibrin added.
Ten minutes after the first blast, a police van in Maiduguri’s Dalori area was targeted and five officers were killed, the spokesman told AFP.
A vehicle approached the parked van and an explosive was thrown towards it, he explained, with the blast killing all the officers inside as well as the three attackers.
Borno state has been under a state of emergency since May when the military launched a major offensive aimed at crushing the Islamist uprising.
Initially, the military had some success in tempering attacks within Maiduguri, but Boko Haram has carried out a series of daring raids in the heart of the city in recent months.
A military base and the airport were attacked late last year, while earlier this month, gunmen stormed the notorious Giwa military in the city and set fire to much of the compound.
Military sources said hundreds of Boko Haram prisoners held at the barracks were freed in the raid.
Boko Haram has since 2010 repeatedly attacked the police, military and various other symbols of authority as well as defenceless civilians during its rebellion.
The group has said it wants to create a strict Islamic state in mainly Muslim northern Nigeria. [AFP]