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24-Hour Curfew in Nigerian City After Suspected Boko Haram Attack

Authorities have imposed a 24-hour curfew in the Nigerian city of Maiduguri after an attack by suspected Boko Haram militants.

Local journalists tell VOA that the pre-dawn attack Monday targeted areas in and around the Maiduguri airport, including a Nigerian air force base.

Soldiers blocked off roads leading to the airport after the attack. A Borno state official tells VOA the military was searching for possible explosive devices and hunting for militants.

The Nigerian army said in a statement it had "successfully repelled" a Boko Haram attempt to gain access to parts of the Maiduguri metropolis and "inflicted serious casualties" on the militants.

It said the situations around the airport and the village of Jantilo are "calm and under control."

It also called for the population to comply with the curfew while troops and aircraft pursue the terrorists.

This is the first time Borno state has imposed a curfew in Maiduguri since 2009.

Borno is one of three northeastern states where President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in May as part of efforts to defeat Boko Haram.

Nigeria's military says it has killed scores of militants and destroyed several of the group's camps. However, attacks against civilians have continued.

Boko Haram is blamed for thousands of deaths in attacks since 2009. The group is believed to want to impose strict Islamic law across Nigeria's Muslim-majority north.

The fight against the militants is complicated by uncertainty about its structure and leadership, and questions about whether criminals are using the group's name as cover for their activities.

Rights groups have accused the military of using indiscriminate and heavy-handed violence in its efforts to crush Boko Haram, and causing hundreds of civilian deaths.