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Nigeria Steps Up Efforts to Combat Terrorism

  • Peter Clottey

An explosion ripped through a Catholic church during Christmas Mass near Nigeria's capital Sunday, killing scores of people, officials said. A radical Muslim sect claimed the attack and another bombing near a church in the restive city of Jos, as explosio

An explosion ripped through a Catholic church during Christmas Mass near Nigeria's capital Sunday, killing scores of people, officials said. A radical Muslim sect claimed the attack and another bombing near a church in the restive city of Jos, as explosio

Nigeria’s government is stepping up its intelligence gathering capacity as well as training security agents to forcefully combat the militant Islamic sect Boko Haram.

“There has been an ongoing security operation against the group, and we have [not only deployed] security personnel, we are also increasing our surveillance capacity through training and acquisition of new technologies,” says Information Minister Labaran Maku.

He said the government is redoubling its efforts by coordinating with local and international partners to combat terrorist groups operating in the country.

“We are cooperating with other countries within the Economic Community of West African States and also by extending our contacts with other states stretching from Chad to Algeria,” continued Maku, “to prevent these groups from crisscrossing boundaries to penetrate and attack people in Nigeria.”

He said the administration is also appealing to Christian groups not to view the recent church bombings perpetrated by Boko Haram as attacks on Christians by Muslims. Maku denies the violence could spark a religious battle between the two religious groups.

“It’s a challenge for the security agencies and for the nation to do the best we can to hunt down these groups to defeat them, and that is exactly what the government security agencies are doing,” said Maku. “What terror wants is to divide people, to create confusion, panic, havoc and violence. Our duty is to unite all people. We must all come together to face the challenge that terror has constituted in our daily lives in Nigeria.”

Some analysts expressed concern after some groups warned that they will defend themselves if state security agencies fail to prevent future attacks. They said the palpable tension following the attacks could plunge the country into crisis.

But, Maku said the government is reassuring Nigerians it will keep up the pressure on Boko Haram and other assailants who he said want to create panic and instability.

“All of us are doing everything possible to prevent future attacks and to defeat these terror groups,” said Maku. “What is clear is [that we must] not create sentiment that can lead to confusion in a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society like Nigeria. [Actions] aimed at isolating terror [should] not [appear to be] acting on behalf of any particular religion or group.”

Maku is also calling for “cooperation and awareness from the population to cooperate with security by exposing the networks of these groups.”

He said Nigerians need to be unified in the effort to combat Boko Haram.

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