News / Africa

Nigeria Violence Surges After Military Declares Imminent Victory

Residents stand on January 14, 2014 near a burning car in Maiduguri moments after at least 17 people were killed when an explosion ripped through a busy market in the mostly Muslim city in northeast Nigeria.
Residents stand on January 14, 2014 near a burning car in Maiduguri moments after at least 17 people were killed when an explosion ripped through a busy market in the mostly Muslim city in northeast Nigeria.
Heather Murdock
Violence has surged in northeastern Nigeria less than a week after new military leaders declared they would end a four-year-old insurgency by April.  Some analysts say the attacks signify that a fresh military approach alone will not end the fighting. 

Last week, Nigeria’s new chief of defense staff, Air Marshal Alex Badeh, said the Boko Haram insurgency in northeastern Nigeria would be over by April, before the state of emergency in three states expires.  The war, he said, is “already won.”

Then, on Sunday and Monday, more than 70 people were killed in two brutal attacks. 

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 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
 
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 a dorm in Yobe
  • October - Attack Yobe state capital Damaturu, clash with military in Borno state
Haruna Musa Ahmed, a bystander on one street in Kaduna, a northern city that has been the scene of many Boko Haram attacks, says when the government threatens Boko Haram, the militant group fights harder.

“That is why they take that attack on the weekend.  To tell him that they cannot deliver so let him go and change to another strategy,” he said.

The recent attacks, on a market in Borno state and a Catholic church in Adamawa, have prompted renewed calls for peace talks.  Shehu Sani, the president of the Civil Rights Congress of Nigeria, says insurgents have adapted to military rule, making them difficult to defeat.

“They were able to survive it.  Now they have reorganized themselves and are launching attacks from different places.  So now we have to find another way of solving the problem,” Sani said.

Last year, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan created a “dialogue committee” to set up peace talks with Boko Haram, an Islamist militant group that has killed thousands of people in the past few years in attacks on churches, mosques, schools, market places, villages and on the government.

Sani says a lasting solution to the crisis must include development in the region, where the economy is in shambles and most people have barely enough food, shelter and health care to survive.  
 
He adds that peace talks have not yet been successful.

“The dialogue committee made claims of meeting with the insurgents and the dialogue committee made claims of arriving at a ceasefire with the insurgents,which has been consistently dismissed by the insurgents," Sani said.

Critics say any peace talks with Boko Haram are bound to fail because it is a fractured group without a clear leadership structure.  Even if one part of the group agrees to a ceasefire, they say, another part may fight on.

Boko Haram says it wants to impose its harsh version of Islamic law on Nigeria but observers say many of the fighters are unemployed young men with no other income.

Political consultant Fabian Ihekweme says the president is developing a new strategy to end the insurgency, which included replacing the entire military leadership earlier this month.

“He is coming up with a different security approach to tackle the menace.  And it is also good that he uses different men in doing that,” Ihekweme said.

But on the streets of Kaduna, some locals say it is not different men that are needed, but more men. 

“The number of police we have are too small," aid worker Idris Inuwa said. "The number of security we have are too small.  They are not up to the number we are supposed to have in this country.”

Human Rights Groups have criticized the Nigerian military, saying it has killed hundreds of people in operations against Boko Haram and arrested hundreds more without charges.

The Nigerian military denies these accusations, saying the Boko Haram war is constantly changing and while they work hard to adapt, no country in the world to date has been entirely successful at ending terrorism.  


Ibrahima Yakubu contributed to this report from Kaduna

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs