Nigeria’s Maiduguri airport re-opens after 18 months

Maiduguri (Nigeria) (AFP) – Commercial flights resumed into the northeast Nigerian city of Maiduguri on Friday, nearly 18 months after the airport was shut in the wake of a daring Boko Haram raid.

A Med-View Airline flight with 82 passengers on board, including the Borno State governor Kashim Shettima, touched down at about 2:00 pm (1300 GMT).

Nigeria’s military, which has a base at the airport, announced the re-opening of the facility last month.

The airport was shut in December 2013 after a daring assault by hundreds of militant fighters that saw them burn military aircraft on the tarmac and seize a cache of weapons.

Med-View managing director Muneer Bankole said the domestic carrier would initially operate four flights a week to Maiduguri, building up to a regular daily service.

Bankole said he was hopeful the Boko Haram insurgency would not affect operations.

“Allah is the owner of security. We are all at the mercy of Allah. We pray for our brothers… that they should know that peace is the solution,” he told reporters.

Boko Haram began life as a largely peaceful anti-corruption movement in Maiduguri in 2002, turning violent in 2009 after the death of its founder in custody.

The city has come under repeated attack, especially since the inauguration as president on May 29 of Muhammadu Buhari, who has vowed to crush the uprising.

Travel into and out of Maiduguri had been fraught with danger after the airport was closed, forcing travellers to undertake dangerous trips by road through Boko Haram-held territory.

In the last 18 months only military planes and emergency personnel have been allowed to use the airport.

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