News / Africa

Despite Army Operations, No Letup in Nigerian Militant Attacks

In this photo taken on Aug. 8, 2013, Nigerian Muslims walk past an uncompleted mosque in Maiduguri, Nigeria.
In this photo taken on Aug. 8, 2013, Nigerian Muslims walk past an uncompleted mosque in Maiduguri, Nigeria.
Heather Murdock
Reports are circulating that militants killed dozens of people in northeastern Nigeria during the weekend, most of whom were praying at a mosque.  Some analysts said the insurgent group Boko Haram could be trying to warn civilians not to cooperate with authorities.
Locals say men in fatigues, but not Nigerian soldiers, attacked a mosque early Sunday in the town of Kanduga as people were praying.  The reports said at least 44 people were killed.  Locals said another attack in the village of Ngom killed at least 12. Officials confirmed the attacks happened outside of Maidguri, the original home of Boko Haram, but did not say how many people were killed.   
Elizabeth Donnelly, assistant head of the Africa Programme for the London-based think tank Chatham House, said recent attacks are meant to show the public Boko Haram has not been conquered, despite thousands of soldiers being deployed in Yobe, Adamawa and Borno states, which are under emergency rule.
“With this current attack it is demonstrating its presence.  It is flexing its muscles," Donnelly said. "It is showing that it still has the capacity to cause serious harm.”  
Major attacks blamed on Nigeria's Boko Haram
  • July - Attacks prompt government crackdown in Bauchi and Maiduguri; 800 people killed
  • December - Bombings in central Nigeria and church attacks in the northeast kill 86
  • June - Attack on a bar in Maiduguri kills 25
  • August - Suicide bomber kills 23 at U.N. building in Abuja
  • November - Bombings in Damaturu and Potiskum kill 65
  • December - Christmas Day bombings across Nigeria kill 39
  • January -- Gun and bomb attacks in Kano kill up to 200
  • February - Maiduguri market attack kills 30
  • June - Suicide car bombings at three churches kill 21
  • July - Attacks in Plateau state kill dozens, including two politicians at a funeral for the victims
  • February - French family kidnapped in Cameroon, held hostage for two months
  • April - Fighting with troops in Baga kills up to 200; residents say troops set deadly fires
  • May - Attacks in Bama kill more than 50
  • July - Gunmen kill 30 at a school in Yobe
  • August - Gunmen kill 44 at a mosque outside Maiduguri
  • September - Gunmen kill 40 students a dorm in Yobe
  • October - Attack Yobe state capital Damaturu, clash with military in Borno state
But she also said the attacks do not necessarily mean that the Nigerian government is losing its war with insurgents.  The region has been largely cut off from the rest of the country for the past three months, with cell phone lines and other forms of communications usually down.  
Donnelly said the latest attacks show military claims to be crushing Boko Haram and Boko Haram claims to be growing stronger could each be true. “You are [seeing] heightened activity around Maiduguri because this is where the core of the group has now been squeezed and remains.  Or if this thing actually-the state of emergency, is really going anywhere because, well clearly it is not delivering protection to civilians,” she stated.

Borno State officials said the attack could have been intended to scare people who may have been sharing information with security forces.  One of the pillars of their current security policy is to gather intelligence from local residents.  
Civilians have also formed vigilante groups with the support of Nigerian security forces.  Usman Musa told a VOA reporter in Maiduguri his vigilante group went to Konduga after the mosque was attacked and fought with heavily armed militants, who killed four of Musa’s comrades.  
A new video released shortly after the attack on the mosque and in the nearby town of Ngom shows Abubakar Shekau, the man believed to lead Boko Haram, claiming responsibility for recent deadly attacks and promising more.  
He said his fighters are ready to not only conquer Nigeria, but also confront the United States.  After he speaks, a shaky video shows men burning what looks like an armored vehicle with flat tires in the desert.  
What sounds like gunshots can be heard and the camera pans to what appears to be some kind of aircraft flying over the smoky car.  
Boko Haram has been blamed for thousands of deaths since 2009 in attacks on the government, churches, schools, mosques, markets, international organizations and media houses.  In his video messages, Shekau said the group wants to impose Islamic law and rescue imprisoned members.  But like their latest video, their real motivations have never been entirely clear to outsiders.  
Abdulkareem Haruna contributed to this report from Maiduguri; Ardo Hazzad contributed to this report from Bauchi.

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Comment Sorting
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
August 14, 2013 7:56 AM
Nigerians know where the boko haram trouble is coming from. On Tuesday the Nigeria Television Authority program (Tuesday Live) dwelt on the issue of Boko Haram and insecurity in the country. Callers asked the question why those who clearly promised what is happening now - boko haram attacks - have not been brought to book, but the organizers ignored the question as if it was asked. Which is an indication that even in the government media houses the issue is a sacred one not to be discussed. Sacred cow syndrome is an issue Nigeria cannot survive.

Those implicated have not even been queried for once. Instead their apologist in the panel of discussants takes our minds back to 2001 and 2002 when seemingly similar thing like boko haram attack arose. But how can we draw a symmetry to that, assuming they were only fine tuning strategies at the time being sponsored by those who assuredly promised destabilization should they lose the election in 2009? The bigger problem is that Nigeria has a Lilly-livered authority at all levels of administration that show no clout for anything except in dexterity to corruption -staling of public funds.

The army can do little but fight where there is clue to do that, but with the cooperation of the Muslim communities and high placed individuals who hunt with the hound and run with the hare, the militants cannot but have an upper hand in committing mayhem in the country. Until there is a president who will take the bull by the horn by taking action against the known, seemingly untouchable sponsors of these miscreants, the end is not yet in sight.

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