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    Villagers sit on the back of a small truck as they and others flee the recent violence near the city of Maiduguri, Nigeria

    Boko Haram Set Back by International Forces, Violence Continues to Spread

    © AP Photo / Jossy Ola
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    Repelled from Maiduguri and facing a growing challenge on Nigeria's eastern border with Cameroon, Boko Haram expands its attacks west as suicide bombers struck targets outside the conflict zone.

    MOSCOW, February 1 (Sputnik) — Boko Haram's attack on Maiduguri was repelled, as Chad continued airstrikes on the group's positions in Gamboru, AFP reported. Meanwhile, violence in Nigeria spread westwards as blasts in Gombe killed five people and a suicide bombing in Potiskum killed 10.

    In Maiduguri, which is located in Nigeria's northwestern Borno state, the army together with local vigilantes repelled Boko Haram's attack, as defense officials boasted of a significant victory.

    Life in the city returned to relative calm, according to a Nigerian daily, the Premium Times, although many civilians are said to have been killed in the crossfire. Boko Haram fighters previously attacked Maiduguri on February 25, but were driven back, although they were able to capture the town of Monguno to the north, as well as a military base.

    Later in the day, two Mi-24 attack helicopters belonging to the Chadian army struck Boko Haram positions in Gamboru, on the Nigerian-Cameroonian border, AFP reported. The Chadian and Cameroonian armies are considered to be preparing a joint assault against the group in Fokotol, across the border from Gamboru.

    "We are seeing more and more troops arrive in Fokotol. They are growing in size every day," a local resident told AFP.

    The Chadian and Cameroonian forces which are also said to possess artillery, expanded their control of the area as an elite Cameroonian army battalion seized control of two cross-borer bridges, according to the agency.

    Suicide Bomb Attacks Spread West

    A suicide bombing killed 10 people in the town of Potiskum, located in the west of Nigeria's Yobe state, where Boko Haram are also known to operate. According to Reuters, a suicide bomber blew himself up outside of the house of Sabo Garbu, a member of Nigeria's House of Representative. Garbu is a member of Goodluck Jonathan's ruling People's Democratic Party.

    Five more people were killed by two blasts in the city of Gombe, the capital of Gombe state, which is also considered an area of Boko Haram's operations. Two people were killed at a marketplace by an explosion from an unknown source and moments later a suicide bomber on a motorcycle blew himself up outside a military checkpoint, killing one soldier and two civilians, AFP reported.

    Stability Uncertain as Elections Loom

    Nigeria is only two weeks away from its national elections, which are scheduled for February 14, and are considered too close to call, according to Reuters. Despite the violence in the country's northeast, an opposition stronghold, election officials have insisted on holding the vote, although they admitted that voting will be impossible in the northeast, AFP reported.

    The electoral commission is struggling as over a million internally displaced people have to be allowed to vote, according to Reuters. In addition, foreign observers announced that they will not be able to monitor elections in the area because of the unrest, according to AFP.

    Boko Haram is a militant group, which aims at establishing an Islamic state in northern Nigeria. Large swathes of land in the Borno State, as well as in neighboring Adamawa and Yobe are believed to be under control of the Islamists. The Boko Haram insurgency has left over 13,000 people dead since 2009.

    In October 2014, the leaders of Niger, Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon announced plans to step up the fight against Boko Haram with an additional battalion and a command center to tackle the group, and Chad began its operation in mid-January. Chad is considered impacted by this conflict not only because it is harmed by Boko Haram, but also because it faces a dire humanitarian situation as refugees flee to the country as Boko Haram's influence spreads in Nigeria.

    On January 4, Boko Haram militants captured the town of Baga in Borno State, reportedly killing hundreds. "The human carnage perpetrated by Boko Haram terrorists in Baga was enormous," Muhammad Abba Gava, a spokesman for a local defense group that fights militants, told the Associated Press. Reports emerged that approximately 2,000 people, mostly women, children and the elderly, were killed, according to Amnesty International.

    On Friday, three soldiers and 123 Boko Haram militants were killed as the Chadian military began an operation against the group, Chadian military officials told AFP.

    On Saturday, African leaders meeting for the African Union' Peace and Security Council, announced the creation of a 7,500-strong multinational force to combat Boko Haram, AP reported. The same day, the Chadian army launched air strikes against Boko Haram positions in Gamboru.

    Related:

    UN Chief Welcomes African Union's Focus on Boko Haram Threat
    Boko Haram Publishes Photos of Children in Military Training
    Boko Haram Claims Responsibility for Recent Massacre in Nigeria
    Tags:
    suicide attack, airstrike, attacks, bombings, Mi-24, 2015 Nigerian General Election, Nigerian Army, Cameroonian Army, Chadian Army, Boko Haram, Goodluck Jonathan, Fokotol, Gombe, Gamboru, Maiduguri, Nigeria
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