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

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid