News / Africa

Nigeria Responds to Upsurge in Boko Haram Violence

Soldiers stand during a parade in Baga village on the outskirts of Maiduguri, in the north-eastern state of Borno, Nigeria, May 13, 2013.Soldiers stand during a parade in Baga village on the outskirts of Maiduguri, in the north-eastern state of Borno, Nigeria, May 13, 2013.
x
Soldiers stand during a parade in Baga village on the outskirts of Maiduguri, in the north-eastern state of Borno, Nigeria, May 13, 2013.
Soldiers stand during a parade in Baga village on the outskirts of Maiduguri, in the north-eastern state of Borno, Nigeria, May 13, 2013.
Anne Look
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has declared a state of emergency in three northern Nigerian states and ordered the immediate deployment of more troops, in response to a surge of violence the president says poses a "very serious threat" to Nigeria's territorial integrity. Radical Islamist sect, Boko Haram, has been expanding and intensifying its more than three-year-old insurgency, while other criminal and ethnic militias increasingly target security forces.

Boko Haram made its name with drive-by shootings and suicide bombings in northern Nigerian cities, and the capital Abuja. Targets were security installations, markets, churches and even the U.N. headquarters in Abuja in August 2011.

Recent, high-profile raids against military and police in the far northeastern border towns of Baga and Bama, however, highlight what experts say are key shifts in the group's tactics and capabilities.

Thriving terrorism

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
​Spokesman for the Joint Military Task Force [JTF] in Borno state, Lt. Col. Sagir Musa said, "There is literally a resurgence of terrorist activities in Borno State, mostly in the rural areas. We have observed the resurgence and where it is coming from and necessary measures are on to stop it and soon it will be stopped."

But there is concern that Boko Haram is gaining the upper hand.  

Analysts, human rights activists and northern residents say reported abuses against civilians and Boko Haram detainees by the Nigerian security forces have undercut cooperation and potentially fed recruitment into the sect.

Reuters news agency reports that parts of Borno state have fallen under de-facto Boko Haram control.

Residents of Maiduguri, like one retired soldier, said the militants have a local advantage.

"It's a common knowledge. People have been saying that they are living within the forest ahead of area on the way to Monguno," he said. "Some people are saying that a large percentage of them are living within Bama forest. Some are saying they are in Sambisa and in Damboa having military trainings. To my mind, unless [there is] a serious concerted effort, and unless a very, very protracted intelligence gathering is embarked upon, we could say that the Boko Haram is winning the war."

Shifting strategy

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
Nigeria analyst for the Washington-based Jamestown Foundation, Jacob Zenn, said he has seen recent Boko Haram propaganda videos, not all of them made public, that indicate their freedom of movement.

"It's amazing how they can just drive around and train in desert areas of northeastern Nigeria freely for a group that's supposedly being hotly pursued," he said.

Zenn said the shift to more rural targets appears strategic.

"It seems that Boko Haram has come under pressure in some of the major cities like Maiduguri, and is actually realizing that it is preferable for Boko Haram to operate in the rural areas where the government doesn't have too many forces. And there it can establish havens. It can train. It can keep hostages," said Zenn.

Boko Haram only recently has entered the kidnapping business, something analysts say is further evidence of links forged with al Qaida's North Africa franchise, which along with two other militant Islamist groups, held northern Mali for 10 months before a French-led military intervention in January.

Boko Haram's first major grab was a French family of seven from northern Cameroon in February. The family was released two months later, though the full terms of their release were not made public.

Rampant kidnappings

Boko Haram says it is now kidnapping local women and children in retaliation for the wives and children of their members who are being held by government and security officials.

Sect leader Abubakar Shekau made the threat in the sect's most recent video, released May 13, which shows footage of a dozen unidentified women and children that he claims are hostages.

Shekau said they will kidnap more. He said if they can't see their women and children, then no one will be allowed to enjoy his family. He said God allows them to consider all those they capture as slaves. And, he told security forces, If you think you can rescue them, then "we challenge you to try."

Boko Haram continues to upgrade its weaponry and expand its capabilities.  

The JTF said the Boko Haram raid in Bama on May 7 that killed 55 people - most of them police and security forces - was a brutal, multi-pronged attack by 200 militants who stormed the town with anti-aircraft guns mounted on vehicles.

Experts say Boko Haram likely is obtaining weapons, ammunition and explosives from black-market channels flowing through the Sahel region, as well as seizing them from the Nigerian security forces.

VOA obtained a Boko Haram propaganda video filmed after a March 3 raid against a military barracks in the northeastern town of Monguno.  

In the video, a masked militant surrounded by fighters shows off an extensive display of what he says are arms and thousands of rounds of ammunition seized from the Monguno barracks. The camera pans over neatly laid out rows of heavy machine guns, rifles, RPGs and magazines, which the speaker calls the "bounty of God."

An independent arms control expert examined the video and told VOA that the weapons shown are consistent with those known to be in the Nigerian military arsenal.

You May Like

Mugabe Dismisses Male-Female Equality

'It is not possible that women can be at par with men' incoming African Union president declares on eve of summit More

Somali Terror Suspect's Light Sentence Raises Questions

Abdullahi Yusuf, 18, could have spent 15 years in prison but judge instead sentenced him to a halfway house, and a program to try to integrate him back into the community More

Video Kobani Ravaged Following Kurdish Ouster of IS Militants

Even so, hundreds of refugees sheltering in Turkey seek to return; Kurdish forces hold some back, saying fighting continues 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.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid