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Boko Haram launches attacks on Nigerian city

By Andrew V. Pestano

MAIDUGURI , Nigeria, Jan. 25 (UPI) -- Boko Haram has laid siege to the city of Maiduguri in its latest attempt to establish an Islamic state in Nigeria.

Explosions were heard shortly after midnight on Saturday and gunshots followed later on. A curfew was set and security forces have shut down roads and businesses.

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Fighting has primarily been in the outskirts of the city. The Nigerian military launched air strikes against Boko Haram.

The last time Boko Haram attempted to capture the city was in Dec. 2013.

On Saturday, Boko Haram killed 15 in the village of Kambari, less than 3 miles away from Maiduguri.

Maiduguri, the capital of Nigeria's Borno state, was visited on Saturday by Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan. He also visited Maiduguri on Jan. 16 and told the refugees that all areas controlled by Boko Haram will soon be back under government control and that refugees would "soon go back to your houses."

Boko Haram is reported to have also attacked the city of Monguno, 86 miles north of Maiduguri, on Sunday.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will attempt to meet with President Jonathan and his rival, Muhammadu Buhari, next month in hopes to ensure the 2015 Nigerian presidential election results are accepted by all parties. Kerry is to arrive in Lagos on Feb. 1.

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Boko Haram was designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department in 2013. The militant Islamic group seeks to establish an Islamic state in Nigeria and has ruthlessly targeted civilians.

Recently, Boko Haram decimated the Nigerian village of Baga and kidnapped dozens after launching attacks in Cameroon.

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