Terrorist group Boko Haram launched attacks on two Nigerian towns yesterday morning, advancing toward Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, reports CNN. Hundreds of gunmen seized the town of Monguno, as well as the military barracks within city limits.
"Our soldiers initially repelled the terrorists, but they mobilized more fighters and came back in full force," a Nigerian military officer told CNN. "They overwhelmed our troops and forced them to retreat."
Residents fled to nearby towns as insurgents burned down homes and brutally massacred civilians. More than 200 people died in the attacks, though the majority of those killed were terrorists.
Shortly after the Monguno attack, extremists also launched a raid on Jintilo, a town about 5 miles outside of Maiduguri. As the terrorists get closer to the capital, which has about 600,000 residents, military officials have issued a curfew and put the city on lockdown to prevent any militants from entering.
Boko Haram, which originated in Maidugurui, has been attempting to seize control of the city for months to work toward its ultimate goal of making Nigeria an Islamic nation. Sunday's attacks come less than a month after Boko Haram violently massacred residents in the town of Baga, where the death toll could be as high as 2,000.
Nigeria will hold its presidential elections next month. Current President Goodluck Jonathan, who is running for another term, has largely ignored the violence, though he has asked citizens to vote.