On Election Day, Explosions

But President Muhammadu Buhari says people 'are behaving themselves'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 23, 2019 10:00 AM CST
Explosions, Delays Mark Nigerian Election
Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari gestures to supporters after casting his vote in his hometown of Daura, northern Nigeria, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019.   (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

Gunfire and explosions opened Nigeria's delayed election on Saturday as President Muhammadu Buhari seeks a second term in Africa's most populous nation, the AP reports. The vote, widely seen as too close to call, also was marred by hours-long delays at polling stations across the vast West African country. Police said they triggered the blasts in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, shortly before polls opened in a show of force to deter the Islamic extremists that plague the northeast. But security sources said a rocket hit a displaced persons' camp, while a blast at an army garrison killed one soldier and injured four others. The army also confirmed a "futile" attack on a security outpost in Geidam in Yobe state.

Voting turnout appeared to be light as authorities tried to calm panicked, skeptical residents. Gunfire also was heard in Port Harcourt in Nigeria's restive south, where the military presence was heavier than in past elections. One convoy in Delta state contained more than 25 vehicles with battle-ready soldiers. Later in the day, soldiers in Rivers state fired on suspected ballot snatchers, with four people arrested. Buhari brushed aside reporters' questions about whether he would accept a loss to top challenger Atiku Abubakar , a billionaire former vice president. The president, first in line to vote in his northern hometown of Daura, jokingly checked the name on his wife's ballot. Nigerians "are behaving themselves," the president said.

(More Nigeria stories.)

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