As Nigerians go to the polls, terror group Boko Haram wages a bloody campaign to disrupt the election – killing six at polling stations and detonating a bomb at a school.
Chadian soldiers hold weapons in the recently retaken town of Damasak, Nigeria in March
Islamist Boko Haram insurgents launched two deadly attacks on voters in north east Nigeria on Saturday, while a bomb went off in a school being used as a polling station.
Six people were killed by gunmen in two of the attacks, in an election in which insecurity is a major issue.
The bombing did not result in any deaths, although possible injuries have been reported.
One of the shooting attacks was in Ngalda, Yobe state, and the other was in an ethnic Fulani village called Woru in Gombe state, security sources said.
In both attacks, gunmen opened fire on voters as they walked to their polling stations, killing three in each.
In a separate incident, a Nigerian soldier was killed in an ambush in the oil city of Port Harcourt.
The bomb exploded in the eastern Nigerian city of Enugu at a polling station in a primary school on Saturday, hours before polls opened and before another bomb that stuck a different part of the east, police said.
Nigeria’s general election was due to be held on 14 February but had been delayed by several weeks, ostensibly to crush the Boko Haram insurgency.
Boko Haram has now sworn allegiance to the Islamic State group, and has been conducting a resurgent campaign of terror throughout Nigeria – killing thousands, burning villages to the ground and abducting children and women.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement Washington was “deeply disappointed” by Nigeria’s decision to delay its election.
“Political interference with the Independent National Electoral Commission is unacceptable, and it is critical that the government not use security concerns as a pretext for impeding the democratic process,” he said.
Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan is facing a strong challenge to his presidency from retired major-general Muhammadu Buhari, who is seen by some as a strong hand to tackle Nigeria’s security concerns.
Security is the number one issue Nigerians want politicians to focus on in the election campaigns, according to Nigerian polling company NOI.
Forty eight per cent of Nigerians said secuirty was their primary concern, rising to 70 per cent in the north-east where Boko haram has been rampaging.
In addition, 64 per cent of Nigerians said the most pressing issue in the election would decide which way they voted “to a great extent”.
In February, Chad deployed 2,500 troops as part of a regional effort to take on the militant group, which has been fighting for five years to create an Islamist emirate in northern Nigeria.
An estimated 10,000 people died in the region last year.