Boko Haram advances as Nigerian voting continues

Suspected Boko Haram extremists attacked polling stations and destroyed election material in two northeastern towns, police said as Nigerians continued voting yesterday in certain areas that suffered technical glitches.

Fleeing residents said scores of the extremists were advancing on Nigeria’s northeastern city of Bauchi and soldiers were engaging them with heavy gunfire.

Fighter jets flew above the city and police spokesman Haruna Muhammad said security forces had stopped a convoy of 10 vehicles of “unidentified gunmen” at Dindima village, 10 kilometres from Bauchi.

Residents said the convoy was carrying Boko Haram fighters who first struck at about 7.30am at Alkaleri, about 120 kilometres east of Bauchi.

Muhammad said the gunmen attacked polling stations in Kirfi and Alkaleri towns earlier yesterday.

Boko Haram extremists killed at least 41 people and scared hundreds of people from polling stations in three states in the northeast on Saturday.

In electoral violence elsewhere, three people including a soldier were shot and killed in southern Rivers state and police said two car bombs exploded at polling stations in the southeast, but no one was injured.

Elections were extended into yesterday in about 300 of the country’s 150,000 polling stations, including some areas of Lagos, Nigeria’s megacity of 20 million on the Atlantic coast, according to the country’s electoral commission. The extended voting was necessary because new voting equipment failed to confirm voters’ identities.

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