News / Africa

Boko Haram Battles Crush Northern Nigerian City

Residents survey vehicles damaged after a bomb blast at a primary school in Maiduguri, the capital of Nigeria's Borno state, February 29, 2012.
Residents survey vehicles damaged after a bomb blast at a primary school in Maiduguri, the capital of Nigeria's Borno state, February 29, 2012.
Heather Murdock
ABUJA — Nigeria’s new National Security Adviser Sambo Dasuki says he is optimistic that a cease-fire between the government and the militant group known as Boko Haram could offer some relief to the embattled northern Nigerian city Maiduguri within the next few weeks.  Some residents and local leaders say the fighting has crushed the city’s economy and forced many people to flee their homes. 

Ibrahim used to live in a neighborhood next door to the mosque that was the home of the Islamist sect known as Boko Haram before it was demolished and the area became a war zone.  

Residents of his neighborhood are literally caught in the crossfire, he says, with constant gunfire and bomb blasts.

His neighborhood is mostly abandoned and those that haven’t left mostly stay inside with their doors locked. “We feel that we have no other option if we want to stay alive than to leave the area, that’s why we fled,” said Ibrahim.

After three years of battle between security forces and the militants, local leaders say Maiduguri is almost on its knees.  Bulama Mali Gubio is the secretary of Borno State Elders Forum.  He says nowadays, many people in Maiduguri can no longer safely leave their homes long enough to pray in neighborhood mosques.

"Our markets and other places of business are no more," said Gubio.  "Many people can no longer access schools for their children.  All the things we held dear to our culture, tradition and pride are gone."

Gubio does not call the group Boko Haram, but by the name the group calls itself: Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'awati Wal-Jihad, or People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet's Teachings and Jihad.  

Boko Haram Facts

  • Based in the northeastern city of Maiduguri
  • Began in 2002 as a non-violent Islamist splinter group
  • Launched uprising in 2009; leader was subsequently killed in police custody
  • Has killed hundreds in bombings and shootings since 2010
  • Boko Haram translates to "Western education is sinful"
  • Wants Nigeria to adopt strict Islamic law
  • Says it will kidnap women and children as part of its campaign
  • Has taken over parts of northeastern Nigeria
He calls on both sides to lay down their weapons, and requests that security forces “drastically minimize” the presence of armed soldiers in communities.  He asks militants to re-join society and promises their grievances will be addressed.

"We wish to appeal to you to consider the plight of your own people and consider bringing the situation under control.  We appeal to you to lay down your arms, come back home, reintegrate yourselves," said Gubio.
 
On Friday, Nigeria’s new National Security Adviser Sambo Dasuki, a northerner, visited Maiduguri to work with local leaders in hopes of ending the security crisis that has plagued Nigeria since Boko Haram began violent operations in 2009.  

Boko Haram has been blamed for hundreds of deaths this year alone from attacks on government buildings, markets, schools, media houses and churches, including church bombings that sparked a new wave of sectarian violence in late June.  The violence killed about 100 people between the bombings and the fights.

In a televised conference June 24, President Goodluck Jonathan said Boko Haram’s goal was to destabilize the government by inciting religious violence.  He called for renewed dialogue, if the group is willing to present a public “face.”

So far, the group's communication with the public and with journalists has come almost entirely through phone calls and e-mail.

Boko Haram says its goals are to establish Islamic law and to free imprisoned members.  The group has claimed ties to other clandestine militant organizations like al-Qaida.

Abdulkareem Haruna contributed to this report from Maiduguri.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid