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Militants attack two north Nigerian cities

The militants set fire to a mobile police station and shot at an air force jet that was circling their forces.

FILE: Islamist militants attacked two northern Nigerian state capitals on Monday, hitting a police post and setting of explosions in a market that killed at least five people, witnesses said. Picture: Supplied.

DAMATURU/MAIDUGURI- Islamist militants attacked two northern Nigerian state capitals hitting a police post and setting of explosions in a market that killed at least five people, witnesses said.

The insurgents launched a raid on Yobe state capital Damaturu at dawn. They set fire to a mobile police station and shot at an air force jet that was circling their forces and dropping bombs, witnesses said.

Later in Borno state capital Maiduguri, two blasts tore through a crowded market place. A hospital source said five dead bodies had been brought in along with 43 wounded.

Yobe, Borno and Adamawa states have been targeted by Boko Haram insurgents who have been fighting for five years to carve an Islamist state out of Africa's top oil producer.

The fighting in Damaturu was still going on by the afternoon and a Yobe State University student said that the main administrative building of the campus had been bombed by militants riding on motorcycles and a pick-up truck.

Yobe state police commissioner Marcus Danladi said the militants had caused "serious damage to security formations in the city, including the mobile police base".

Residents of Damaturu fled or hid as the attackers charged into the city firing their guns and shouting "Allahu Akbar" (God is greatest), people at the scene told Reuters.

"I saw a military jet circling three times. People have abandoned their vehicles on the road and gone home," Damaturu resident Mustapha Usman said.

Another resident, hiding behind a gate, said he saw the militants driving down a road in police vehicles and an armoured vehicle trying to shoot down the plane.

"They mounted anti-aircraft guns and they are trying to shoot the aircraft that was bombarding the town. They were all turning their heads shooting," he added.

The gunmen launched their attack from the nearby town of Buni Yadi, a Boko Haram stronghold, residents said. No one was available for comment at the military headquarters in Abuja.

Boko Haram, which has killed thousands and kidnapped hundreds, was blamed for a coordinated bomb and gun attack on the central mosque in the country's second biggest city, Kano, on Friday.

Two female suicide bombers hit Maiduguri's main market last week, killing at least 44 people.

President Goodluck Jonathan has asked the national assembly to extend the state of emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa which expired on 20 November, but no decision has yet been reached.