Traffic ban to avoid Christmas attacks in northeast Nigeria

AP News
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Posted: Dec 24, 2014 1:20 PM

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) — Nigerian authorities are banning traffic in two northeastern states where they say Islamic extremists are plotting massive attacks over Christmas.

The military announced the most severe restrictions in Borno state, home of the Boko Haram extremist group that is blamed for numerous car and suicide bombings.

Spokesman Col. Sani Usman said they are acting on security reports that Boko Haram plans "massive attacks," especially in the state capital, Maiduguri.

He announced a "ban on all forms of vehicular movement" from 6 p.m. Wednesday to 7 a.m. Sunday.

Hundreds of travelers rushed to beat the deadline. Some caught by overenthusiastic troops at road blocks who barred traffic before the hour of the ban, abandoned their vehicles and continued their journeys on foot.

Lesser restrictions were imposed in neighboring Yobe state, which banned all vehicles from entering or leaving the state but said traffic could move freely within towns except at night when there is a curfew.

In Adamawa, the third state that has been under a state of emergency for 19 months, the government banned use over the festive season of the tricycle taxis that have been used in some suicide bombings.

Nigeria's military headquarters announced a failed suicide bombing in Gombe, which neighbors on all three states. A statement said a man on Tuesday rammed a car packed with explosives into a military checkpoint, but they failed to go off. Soldiers shot and killed the bomber as he tried to escape, the statement said.

Boko Haram controls several towns and villages in both states. Thousands of Nigerians have been killed in the 5-year Islamic insurgency.

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Associated Press writers Adamu Adamu in Damaturu, Nigeria and Ibrahim Abdulaziz in Yola, Nigeria, contributed to this report.