News / Africa

    Nigerian Military Says It Foiled 'Extensive Terrorist Operation'

    Nigerian soldiers are seen patrolling a town in the north-eastern state of Borno in this April 30, 2013, file photo.Nigerian soldiers are seen patrolling a town in the north-eastern state of Borno in this April 30, 2013, file photo.
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    Nigerian soldiers are seen patrolling a town in the north-eastern state of Borno in this April 30, 2013, file photo.
    Nigerian soldiers are seen patrolling a town in the north-eastern state of Borno in this April 30, 2013, file photo.
    Heather Murdock
    The Nigerian military says it has killed three insurgents and captured 25 while foiling what it calls an "extensive terrorist operation" in the northeastern city of Maiduguri, at the epicenter of the insurrection by the group known as Boko Haram. Communication networks remain shut down making it hard to confirm or deny the military's account.
     
    Besides stopping the attack and either arresting or killing all of the plotters, the Nigerian military says it has intercepted messages that urge Boko Haram insurgents to fight on against what the military calls a “massive” offensive against the group.
     
    The defense ministry also says it has captured one of the country’s “most wanted" terrorists, a man named only as Abba, and one soldier was killed in the battle.  

    Fleeing insurgents, it says, now have fewer places to run because several towns on Nigeria's borders have been taken over by government troops.
     
    But public communications networks are down, roads are blocked and there are no independent observers reporting from the fronts, so none of the military reports are verifiable.  There has also been no word from Boko Haram, which usually contacts the public only through YouTube videos, blocked phone lines, and untraceable emails.  
     
    Some analysts fear the information blackout is an intentional cover-up of human-rights abuses.  International rights groups and the U.S. government have previously accused Nigeria's military of killing suspects before arresting them, or arresting them without evidence.
     
    But Wole Olaoye, a Nigerian journalist for nearly four decades, says these accusations do not account for the reality of a war with Boko Haram, an organization that claims ties to al-Qaida and has been blamed for more than 3,000 deaths.  
     
    Soldiers, he says, can neither arrest people that are shooting at them nor identify un-uniformed Boko Haram members without questioning them.  

    “The very thin line between doing their duty, between doing one's duty as a soldier and extra-judicial killing, almost disappears.  Because they have said 'It is war,' now the government will now provide all the facilities.  There will be prisoners of war.  There will be protocols for all of these things,” Olaoye said.
     
    President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states on May 14 and sent thousands of soldiers to battle Boko Haram.  Since then, the military says it has captured hundreds of militants and killed dozens.  
     
    The government says it is also trying to negotiate with Boko Haram and has promised to release hundreds of prisoners, including all women and children held in association with the insurgency.  

    But some analysts say the conflict could continue past the planned six-month emergency rule and they suspect the military is exaggerating its successes and playing down its losses.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    May 28, 2013 6:49 AM
    Foil..., how did they find out? Well, we are yet to hear that a politician has been implicated, or that a governor's involved.... How many more orange sellers, brukutu hawkers etc. have they captured giving information to the elusive non-spirit boko haram. Human rights watch should give the soldiers chance to do their work. They are humans and it is not better that they are killed using the dangerous approach of smiling at civilians in the name of friendliness only for same "civilians" to shoot your back as soon as you turn from them.

    It is costly and failed the US campaign in Iraq and Afghanistan, only a foolhardy to employ same in the Nigerian episode. Let the army use everything at their disposal to prosecute the war, for its success or failure is theirs, as it is either they kill the insurgents or the insurgent kill them. The bottom line is for Nigeria to be rid of such menace as boko haram, Abumutalab and the duo - Adebolajo and Adebowale (butchers of London).

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