News / Africa

In Nigeria, More Bloodshed Despite Fresh Promises

FILE - Families from Gwoza, Borno State, displaced by the violence and unrest caused by the insurgency, are seen at a refugee camp in Mararaba Madagali, Adamawa State, Feb. 18, 2014.
FILE - Families from Gwoza, Borno State, displaced by the violence and unrest caused by the insurgency, are seen at a refugee camp in Mararaba Madagali, Adamawa State, Feb. 18, 2014.
Heather Murdock
— After the Nigerian government vowed to destroy Boko Haram insurgents last week, violence continued in the country's volatile northeast.  The bloodshed included an attack on a village in the area where more than 200 girls were kidnapped in April.  
 
 President Goodluck Jonathan said Friday he would do "everything humanly possible" to defeat Boko Haram, a radical Islamist insurgency that has killed thousands of people this year alone.  He said authorities must save the 219 school girls that have been held captive for more than two months and Boko Haram must be "crushed."


 
FILE - Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan speaks to the media on the situation in Chibok.FILE - Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan speaks to the media on the situation in Chibok.
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FILE - Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan speaks to the media on the situation in Chibok.
FILE - Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan speaks to the media on the situation in Chibok.
"It's an emergency period.  It's like a period where the country is at war.  No information that will be left unused until terror is crushed in Nigeria," he said.
 
On Saturday, a few kilometers from Chibok town where the girls were captured, militants stormed other villages, opening fire on locals and torching houses.  It is not known how many people were killed but villagers reported seeing dozens of bodies.
 
The following day a suicide bomber rammed into a checkpoint, killing three soldiers.
 
Borno State

Both attacks were in remote areas of Borno State, the heart of the five-year-old insurgency and one of three Nigerian states that have been under military rule for more than a year.


 
A man holds a placard calling for the release of secondary school girls abducted in the remote village of Chibok, during a protest along a road in Lagos, May 14, 2014.A man holds a placard calling for the release of secondary school girls abducted in the remote village of Chibok, during a protest along a road in Lagos, May 14, 2014.
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A man holds a placard calling for the release of secondary school girls abducted in the remote village of Chibok, during a protest along a road in Lagos, May 14, 2014.
A man holds a placard calling for the release of secondary school girls abducted in the remote village of Chibok, during a protest along a road in Lagos, May 14, 2014.
Activist Hadiza Bala-Usman is a leader of the "Bring Back Our Girls" campaign that rallies daily to demand the rescue of the kidnapped school children.

"What we see is an increase of activity of the insurgency.  At the same time we see that the Nigerian military says it has up-scaled.  But that up-scaling has not resulted in the containment of the insurgency."

The insurgency has also driven hundreds of thousands of people from their homes in a region where most people live in abject poverty.  Analysts say extreme poverty drives the insurgency, because the huge population of unemployed young people provides ideal recruits for violent extremists.
 
Anti-terrorism strategy
 
On Friday Jonathan also promised to improve northern Nigeria's economy as part of his anti-terrorism strategy.
 
"We are looking at various economic issues to improve the welfare of citizens in the whole country and especially in the northeast because of this terror incident," he said.

The mass kidnapping in April sparked international outrage and politicians from a number of countries, including the United States, Britain, France, China, Israel and Iran pledged to help find the girls.
 
But like Nigerian strategies to find the girls and fight the insurgency, international strategies are, for the most part, not made public.  Officials say for security reasons, they cannot say exactly what is being done.

Ubale Musa contributed to this report from the Statehouse is Abuja.

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