An estimated 77 people are dead following attacks on two Nigerian state capitals by the Boko Haram, bringing the death toll to 247 after a week of violence at the hands of the Islamic extremists.
The AP reports that double suicide bombings carried out by two young female members of the terrorist group at a public market in Maiduguri, capital of Borno state, killed at least 16 people. Two other young women blew themselves up at the same market last week, killing at least 70 people, health care workers report.
Meanwhile, in Damaturu, the Yobe state capital, 2 doctors, 33 police officers, six soldiers and 20 members of the Boko Haram died from serious injuries. The violence reportedly began after dozens of insurgents invaded the town, fighting police for several hours.
Several buildings were also bombed and destroyed, including a rapid-response police base and several structures at the university and the hospital residential compound, said police. However, governor's office, which includes a military armory, was not overtaken due to the heavy fighting.
The remaining members of the terrorist group were finally driven off by bombing by an Air Force fighter jet and a helicopter gunship, according to the Defense Ministry headquarters and witnesses.
"The insurgents were not able to come in full force. They were not able to operate as they wanted. The authorities pushed them out. Many civilians also helped," said Yobe state spokesman Mohammed Hassan.
Yobe Gov. Ibrahim Gaidam praised security forces for doing "a great job," in a statement issued Tuesday by his office, and imposed a 24-hour curfew in Damaturu as soldiers searched the area for any remaining Boko Haram insurgents.
The Governor also urged Nigerians to continue to support the security efforts and to pray for the return of peace and security in the state.
Boko Haram is one of the world's most deadly extremists groups, and has terrorized northern Nigeria since 2009, attacking police, schools, churches and civilians and bombing government buildings. Thousands of people have been killed and 1.6 million driven from their homes as the insurgents attempt to establish an Islamic State within the country.
In October, armed Muslim extremists stormed two churches in Taraba state, killing 31 people as they worshipped, a church leader said, and in April, Boko Haram militants drew international condemnation when they kidnapped more than 200 Christian schoolgirls, many of whom they later said they sold into slavery.
Persecution watchdog International Christian Concern has said that "far too many" Christians have been "martyred, displaced, and terrorized at the hands of armed extremists."
"For years, Boko Haram has waged a campaign of terror against Christians, moderate Muslims, educators and students, and law enforcement and military personnel for the establishment of a separate Islamic state," said ICC Regional Manager for Africa Cameron Thomas.
"The international community [must] come together and lend its full support to the Nigerian state in its battle against Boko Haram, and all other extreme ideologies plaguing the stability of not only that state, but the entire region."