MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (Reuters) - Blasts and gunfire were heard on Thursday in Maiduguri, the city in northeastern Nigeria that has been the hardest hit by the Boko Haram insurgency, witnesses said.
Witnesses reported a heavy military presence and crowded streets as people attempted to flee to safety in the Jiddari Polo area of the city.
"People in our general area of Molai, Polo, Giwa Barrack, Galtimari and New GRA are evacuating as sounds of gunshots and bombs have been heard," said Maiduguri resident Fati Abubakar. "I've been hearing non-stop loud sounds for hours."
President Muhammadu Buhari has made it a priority to improve security and defeat Boko Haram, which has killed more than 30,000 people in the nine years since it began a campaign to establish an Islamic state.
The military issued a statement urging people to remain calm. "The general public is please requested not to panic and discountenance rumours of Boko Haram presence," it said in an emailed statement.
"You are further enjoined to please remain at home and be vigilant. The security situation in Maiduguri is under control," it said.
Boko Haram militants attempted to enter Maiduguri earlier this month, clashing with soldiers in an attack that killed at least 15 people and left 83 injured.
(Reporting by Ola Lanre, Ahmed Kingimi and Tife Owolabi in Yenagoa; writing by Alexis Akwagyiram; editing by Kevin Liffey, Larry King)
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Updated Date: Apr 27, 2018 03:12 AM