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Electricity Restored in Nigerian City 2 Months After Jihadist Attack

Maiduguri, Nigeria
Maiduguri, Nigeria

Residents of the northeastern Nigerian city Maiduguri were elated Wednesday evening when electricity was restored nearly two months after jihadists blew up power supply lines.

The Jan. 26 attack was the third time in a month that militants from the IS-linked Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) group had plunged the city into darkness.

On a bustling street near Bakassi camp, which hosts more than 30,000 people displaced by the violent conflict in the region, residents were rejoicing.

"Seriously, I appreciate it," Sihiyina Chinde, 24, sitting on a wooden bench, preparing pan-fried rice cake and grounded beans in a pan she could finally see thanks to the streetlights.

"I'm a maths and statistics student, and now I can read my books without using my torchlight."

Across the road, a group of children were buying cold water, sold in small plastic bags.

"The light came back at 5:42 p.m. (16:42 GMT)," said the shop owner, Ibrahim Mustafa Goni.

The power company has not yet released a statement but had said it was working on repairing the supply lines to the city of 3 million people.

"Life has been hard," says 48-year-old Goni, "especially at the moment, in the hot season, when cold water is really needed."

Last week, it was 42 degrees in Maiduguri. Goni had to use a generator from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., which cost him about 6,000 naira ($15) each day.

"I had to increase the price of my commodities (as a result) and customers were complaining."

Tonight, "I'm happy," said Goni, but "I appeal for the government to provide more security so that it doesn't happen again."

ISWAP and rival Boko Haram jihadist group often target infrastructure, blowing up telecom and power lines in the northeast.

Militants also target army patrols, making the roads in the region risky for civilians as well as repair crews from the power company.

Nigeria's jihadist insurgency began in 2009. The conflict has since killed around 36,000 people and displaced around 2 million from their homes.