News / Africa

    Nigeria Launches Airstrikes Against Militants

    Nigeria Launches Jets and Helicopter Gunships Against Militantsi
    X
    May 17, 2013 7:31 PM
    The Nigerian military has begun operations against the Islamist militant group Boko Haram, using fighter jets and helicopter gunships. Thousands of people have died in Boko Haram attacks and the government's counter-insurgency effort in the past four years. As a result, there are some doubts over the effectiveness of an all-out military response, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Nigeria Launches Jets and Helicopter Gunships Against Militants
    Henry Ridgwell
    The Nigerian military has begun operations against the Islamist militant group Boko Haram, using fighter jets and helicopter gunships. Thousands of people have died in Boko Haram attacks and associated sectarian violence in recent years. However there are some doubts over the effectiveness of an all-out military response.

    Declaring a state of emergency in three northeastern states Tuesday, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan ordered security forces to take all necessary action.

    ​"Whoever they may be, wherever they may go, we will hunt them down, we will fish them out, and we will bring them to justice," he said. "No matter what it takes, we will win this war against terror."

    Nigerian troops are already part of the international force currently fighting Islamist insurgents in Mali.

    Past experience suggests it will be difficult to eradicate the Boko Haram insurgency on Nigerian territory, said Elizabeth Donnelly, assistant head of the Africa Program at London-based policy institute Chatham House.

    Major attacks blamed on Nigeria's Boko Haram
     
    2009
    July - Attacks prompt government crackdown in Bauchi and Maiduguri; 800 people killed
     
    2010
    December - Bombings in central Nigeria and church attacks in the northeast kill 86
     
    2011
    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
     
    2012
    January -- Gun and bomb attacks in Kano 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
     
    2013
    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 at a post-secondary school in Yobe
    December - Militants attack military installations in Maiduguri

    2014
    January - Militants kill 74 people and burn down a village in attacks in Borno and Adamawa
    February - Gunmen kill as many as 60 in attack on school in Yobe
    April - Militants abduct 276 schoolgirls
    "It is not a change in strategy. It is an intensification of strategy," she said. "And there have been a lot of complaints about the significant use of force in the past and that it hasn't actually achieved anything. In fact you've seen a strengthening of Boko Haram."

    Donnelly said the military risks being drawn into a long campaign against an elusive target.

    "These states that are under the state of emergency all border Nigeria's neighbors - Chad, Cameroon, Niger - and that goes back to the question of sustainability and effectiveness," she said. "Is it possible that members [of Boko Haram] might simply be displaced and return?"

    The north of Nigeria has been neglected for too long by central government, said Virginia Comolli, a Nigeria analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

    "Because things have been neglected and downplayed for so long it also means that the situation has degenerated so much, that now a military component to the strategy is inevitable," she said.

    Comolli said the high youth unemployment in northern cities like Kano acts as fertile ground for extremism.

    "They are likely to remain on the streets, carry on as beggars because that's also what they do during their so-called education," she added. "And some of them join criminal groups and perhaps also more extremist groups. Not so much because they espouse the extreme ideology but because these groups may offer them the chance to channel their grievances and also to make some money."

    Since an escalation in attacks in 2009, Boko Haram has targeted Christian churches and villages. There have been reprisal attacks on Muslims and allegations of abuses by the military.

    "They are very afraid of Boko Haram and Boko Haram-related violence," said Donnelly of Chatham House. "But they're also very afraid of the joint task force that is present in the northeast of Nigeria. And further to these abuses of course it's economic matters, people just cannot go about their daily lives."

    The state of emergency in the northeast lasts for six months.  Analysts say the military operation could take much longer.

    (In a previous version of this story, Elizabeth Donnelly was incorrectly identified as Elizabeth Connelly.)

    You May Like

    Saudi Arabia’s New Female Politicians in the Other Room 

    Many in Saudi Arabia say elected representatives should share unsegregated spaces; according to a recent survey, more than half the Saudi population, both men and women, prefer to work in a segregated place

    Russia Not ‘Apologetic’ for Syria Airstrikes

    With Moscow criticized for targeting armed opponents of President Assad, Russia’s UN envoy says his country ‘acting in a very transparent manner’

    Pakistan Warns of Islamic State's Growing Reach

    Aftab Sultan, General Director General of Intelligence Bureau (IB), briefed Senate Committee in closed hearing, saying that IS-linked groups have been expanding in Pakistan

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.