Military forces fought Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) fighters just hours before President Muhammadu Buhari arrived in Maiduguri, Borno State, on Thursday, after multiple explosions rocked the state capital.

The troops were deployed in large numbers to thwart a terrorist attack on the state capital. ISWAP fighters launched mortar bombs at some parts of the state capital, according to local sources, which landed on many houses around Ngomari, Bulumkutu, and Ayafe near the airport.

Later, surveillance military aircraft were dispatched to aid ground troops in thwarting any impending ISWAP attack.

There was no immediate word on who fired the projectiles, but the rockets hit Bulunkutu Kasuwa, Ajjiri Cross, and Ngomari Ayafe, causing three people to die, according to sources.

About eight people were injured in the blasts, which occurred just hours before President Buhari arrived in the state. Some of the rockets reportedly hit the Ngomari Ayafe neighborhood, which is less than two miles from the Air Force base where the president was expected to land.

Since the December 4 attack, it was the second such strike against Maiduguri, the state capital.

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Professor Babagana Zulum, the state governor, was present to receive the president, along with members of his cabinet, the governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasir el-Rufai, and other security officials.

The first 10-kilometer flyover in the state capital, as well as an international conference center, were among the projects he commissioned.

On his arrival, President Buhari urged Operation Hadin Kai troops to remain steadfast as the campaign against insurgency and other forms of criminality enters its final phase.

The president, speaking to troops at the Airforce Base in Maiduguri, expressed gratitude for the nation’s gallantry in ensuring the gradual return of peace to the North-East, while also expressing condolences to families who had lost loved ones and the wounded.

“I urge you to stay focused on achieving our strategic end-state, which is the defeat of all adversaries and the restoration of an economically viable North-East geopolitical zone and other parts of the country where Nigerians are free to go about their activities without fear or harassment,” Buhari was quoted as saying.

Buhari assured the families of those who have paid the ultimate price for the country and those who have been injured that the Federal Government will provide for their needs, recognizing their sacrifices on behalf of all Nigerians.

“I’ve come to thank and commend you for your service and sacrifices on behalf of a grateful nation.” Let me begin by expressing my condolences on the death on November 13, 2021, of Brigadier-General Dzarma Zirkushu and other members of the 25 and 28 Task Force Brigades.

“I do so with the knowledge that others have died in this theater of operations, as well as other operational areas across the country.” We pray for their souls to rest in peace, and for the Almighty God to comfort their families.

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“The people of Borno State, indeed the entire country, owe a debt of gratitude to our serving men and women in uniform for the enormous sacrifices they have made in the pursuit of peace,” he said.

“That is the spirit, tenacity, and resolve that the Nigerian Armed Forces is known for,” he added, describing the response across the theater as “extraordinary resilience and steadfastness in the face of adversity.” You did an excellent job.

“Our country, like the rest of the Sahel, is confronted with a number of security challenges, the majority of which are characterized by violent non-state actors. This has necessitated a number of responses aimed at ensuring the safety of people and property in the various hotspots.

“Further improvements in the security situation in Operation Hadin Kai have resulted in a corresponding increase in the confidence of our people, who are now returning to their homes in significant numbers.”

“In addition to the military leadership reorganization, concerted efforts are being made to improve your equipment holding. I’m aware that some of the platforms procured by our administration have begun to arrive, while others will arrive in the coming weeks.”

The president also mentioned that significant resources had been allocated to the acquisition of explosive ordinance disposal equipment. He then praised Borno State’s government for its ongoing collaboration with the federal government in a variety of areas, saying that “this has been critical to the advancement of our mutual efforts to restore peace to the state.”

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