News / Africa

Nigeria Violence Escalates

x
Heather Murdock
After pitched fighting between Boko Haram and Nigerian security forces left many people dead last weekend, there are new questions about who was responsible - and the possibility of quieting the militant group with diplomacy.

At first people thought it was a Boko Haram attack that killed nearly 200 people in the northern fishing town of Baga. As details emerge, however, analysts say the carnage could be part of a different pattern - one that is equally or possibly even more destructive than the Boko Haram insurgency.

University of Abuja Institute for Anti-Corruption Studies Director Kabir Mato said Boko Haram insurgents may have attacked the security forces, and indeed one soldier was reported killed. In retaliation, he said, the security forces likely burned down homes and killed civilians. He said this chain of events has become so common in Nigeria; it is almost “normal.”

“The militants that are responsible for this lawlessness of killing soldiers will disappear into thin air. The victims of the military carnage are usually the innocent, unarmed, law-abiding civilians,” said Mato.

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
Human rights

After the fight, security forces said dozens were killed and Boko Haram, a militant group that advocates for a Taliban-like version of Islamic law was hiding out in the town, using civilians as human shields.

In a report this week that echoes reports by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, though, the United States government said indiscriminate killings and detentions by security forces are a “serious human-rights problem” in Nigeria.

U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Terence P. McCulley spoke by phone. "Security forces, in attempting to contain this deadly insurgency, are going beyond and committing acts of violence against innocent civilians and damaging property. We have reports of extra-judicial killings. We have reports of deaths and detentions,” he said.

McCulley said the Nigerian military is in a tight spot fighting Boko Haram, a shadowy group that, without uniforms, cannot be readily be distinguished from the general population and appears to be growing stronger.

“Certainly we are seeing an escalation and increasing sophistication. Increasingly as well in the last few months, the targeting of Westerners,” he said.

Mounting death toll

Human Rights Watch says 3,000 people have been killed in Boko Haram related violence, including killings by security forces.

This week, President Goodluck Jonathan introduced a committee to investigate diplomatic ways of ending the insurgency, such as peace talks or offering amnesty to militants in exchange for turning in their weapons.

McCulley said when the government offered amnesty - meaning small salaries and job training in exchange for weapons - in the Niger Delta in 2009, it did make the region more peaceful. But he cautioned that the two conflicts are very different.

A political science lecturer at the University of Abuja, Abubakar Umar Kari, said amnesty or peace talks may not be successful because Boko Haram is not one entity.

“My worry is that the Boko Haram thing has become a franchise, a franchise for all sorts of groups now. It is possible to have an understanding, an agreement with the mainstream of Boko Haram. But there are several criminal elements that are hiding behind this Boko Haram phenomenon to do all sorts of criminalities,” said Kari.

Kari said amnesty is “a long shot” and that part of the reason Boko Haram violence is escalating is because security forces are alienating local populations.

Nigerian security forces repeatedly have denied accusations of human rights abuses, and Jonathan said the accusations are politically motivated and incorrect.

You May Like

China’s Influence Grows With New Infrastructure Bank

Multibillion-dollar China-backed and BRICS-supported Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank seen as possible challenger to such lenders as IMF, World Bank More

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

Rabbi Michel Serfaty makes the rounds in his friendship bus to encourage dialogue and break down barriers between the two groups More

Post-deal Iran Leaders Need 'Economic Momentum' to Solidify

Economists say deal could inject more than $100 billion into coffers - not enough to entirely rescue ailing economy - but maybe adequate to create 'economic momentum' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
April 25, 2013 12:58 PM
The Nigerians are the boko haram themselves, even though a greater chunk of it comes from neighboring Niger and Chad where the Nigerian authorities have no control. The more reason it cannot find out why Ahmadinejad was there last week, but everybody knows what the Iranian is capable of doing in these matters. The point to note is that since the people within which the boko haram operate hide and protect them, the security forces have no option but to deal with them until they learn to be security conscious and contribute to the defense of the country by exposing the miscreants.

The crux of the matter is: boko haram is enjoying a lot of goodwill there; the people know them and even encourage them. In these days of mobile phones, how can they operate with much freedom and funfair without a single report going to the police? It's not acceptable. If they allow their children to be menace, it is only good that they have a share of the trauma that victims of their trade feel. That has been the stock in trade of the Nigerian military. It has my full support when they do not just go in to destroy but listen to the few who can speak out to show them who the boko haram are and where they have gone to.
In Response

by: BEKEPU JOHN from: PORT HARCOURT
April 26, 2013 1:00 PM
Boko Haram is an instrument devised by the northern elites to continue to keep their kit and kin in perpetual backwardness. If western education is bad, where do they obtain the guns they are using to terrorize, kill and maim the themselves and other innocent people. While, the Haram issue is raging, those who sponsor them are in Saudi Arabia, Iran and other moslem countries with their local colloraborators drinking kunu, pito, smoking expensive exotic cigarettes and drinking chilled french wine.

The illiterates and half baked, frustrated northern youths are venting their frustration by attacking security forces, burning churches, killing innocent school children and destabilizing the region. The southern traders who help to grow the economy have all relocated to other places and settled. The north is using boko haram to destroy itself, the security forces are only help them to fulfill that mission
In Response

by: Audu from: Katsina, Nigeria
April 26, 2013 12:07 AM
Well said Godwin. Boko Haram are people walking around freely and even being tipped about presence of security forces by the civilians. It is difficult to fight someone without uniforms shooting at you and hiding behind willing civilians who would not point out the terrorist. The Nigerian security forces are fighting this insurgency under the worst intelligence condition because the people feeding and helping these terrorists will not report them.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impacti
X
Michael Bowman
June 28, 2015 10:05 PM
Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
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 S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
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 Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. 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.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Chemical-Sniffing Technology Fights Australia's Graffiti Vandals

Cities and towns all over the world spend huge amounts of resources battling graffiti writers who deface buildings, public transport vehicles and even monuments. Authorities in Sydney, Australia, hope a new chemical-sniffing technology finally will stop vandals from scribbling on walls in the passenger areas of commuter trains. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Cambodia Struggling to Curb Child Labor

Earlier this year a United Nations report found 10 percent of Cambodian children aged 7-14 are working – one of the highest rates in the region – and said one in four children in that age bracket are forced to quit school to help their families. Although the child labor rate has dropped over the past decade, Cambodia has a lot more to do – including keeping more children in school. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

VOA Blogs