Today, Islamic extremist group Boko Haram launched a three-front assault on northeast Nigeria’s largest city, Maidguri, and also raided villages in Adamawa state, burning homes and abducting women and children.

Via Fox News:

In Maiduguri, troops blocked roads into the city, which also prevented civilians from escaping.

“Coordinated air and land operations are being conducted now,” Defense Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Chris Olukolade posted on Twitter. He said the 12-hour curfew in place in Maiduguri for more than a year is extended to 24 hours.

“We believe hundreds of thousands of civilians are now at grave risk,” Amnesty International said.

More than 200 combatants have been killed, mainly insurgents, according to soldiers and civilian self-defense fighters who counted bodies. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not allowed to speak to reporters.

Although forces in Maiduguri were able to fight back the wave of insurgents, the army at Monguno, just north of Maiduguri, was overwhelmed and Boko Haram was able to seize control of the city.

People in Maiduguri woke up to the sound of explosions and heavy gunfire as Boko Haram launched a pre-dawn attack on this strategic city.

Ground troops, air strikes and local vigilantes managed to stop the jihadists from penetrating the city. Much of the fighting was around a barracks.

In a separate attack the town of Monguno was captured – the latest to be seized by the group.

With the insurgents gaining more and more territory Maiduguri is increasingly vulnerable. It is home to tens of thousands of people who have fled their homes because of the conflict.

Since last year, Boko Haram has been pulling fighters into Nigeria from Niger, Chad, and Cameroon, and has grown from a regional threat to a cross-border terror organization bent on creating an Islamic state. Leaders of those neighboring states have repeatedly criticized current Nigerian leadership for not doing more to seize control of the spiraling violence.

Nigeria’s upcoming elections have provided Boko Haram with an opportunity to stir up anger and dissatisfaction with the current government. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is in Nigeria this week working with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan as well as former military dictator and Goodluck rival Muhammadu Buhari in an effort to reduce violence in the region. He announced the implementation of a travel ban to the United States against anyone who incites “post-election mayhem.”