News / Africa

    Nigeria's Boko Haram Threatens Broader Attacks

    Members of emergency services work at the scene of an explosion at a police station after a suspected suicide bomber was killed and many vehicles were destroyed in Abuja, June 16, 2011
    Members of emergency services work at the scene of an explosion at a police station after a suspected suicide bomber was killed and many vehicles were destroyed in Abuja, June 16, 2011
    Anne Look

    Nigerian security forces are cracking down on the militant Islamic group Boko Haram, which claimed responsibility for Thursday's bombing in Abuja. Nigerian authorities and analysts say the extremist group, once confined to the country's northeast, is becoming a nationwide security threat. 

    The explosion struck the parking lot of a police station in the capital Thursday, killing at least two people and wounding several others. The blast, which is believed to be Nigeria's first suicide bombing, was so powerful it destroyed 30 cars and damaged dozens more.   

    The attack came less than 24 hours after the Inspector General of Police declared Boko Haram's days were "numbered."    

    A spokesman for Boko Haram told VOA the bombing marked the collapse of any efforts at dialogue with the government.  

    Spokesman Usman Alzawahiri says his group is going to attack the entire north and other parts of the country, including the capital, Abuja. He says Boko Haram personnel just returned from Somalia and have been scattered throughout the north.  He says security agencies should prepare for intensified attacks, and he advises all Nigerians to be wary.

    Visiting the bomb site Sunday, President Goodluck Jonathan called the bombing a terrorist attack that targeted not just the police, but all Nigerians.

    Despite Boko Haram's recent claims to ties with violent Islamists in Somalia, security analysts say the group remains a homegrown insurgency with decidedly internal aims, at least for now.   

    Africa analyst and former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell, said the bombing marked a troubling, though not unexpected, expansion for the group.   

    "Boko Haram is morphing from being a marginal, very violent, radical Islamic sect into something approaching an insurrection that has some popular acquiescence, if not support," said Campbell. "And what the bombing in Abuja would indicate to me is that it is demonstrating that it can operate outside of the core north."  

    Boko Haram launched a brief uprising against the government in July 2009, sparking a heavy military response and a week of fighting that killed about 700 people.  

    Authorities have since blamed the group for a string of bombings and deadly attacks targeting police officers, government officials and religious leaders in Nigeria's north.  

    The group's name in the Hausa language means, "Western education is a sin." It seeks to undermine state authority and calls for the stricter application of sharia, or Islamic law, in northern Nigeria.  

    The secretary-general of the Supreme Islamic Council of Nigeria, Lateef Adegbite, said the roots of, what he called, Boko Haram's rebellion against the state lie in economic hardship and unemployment, not religion.   

    He called for dialogue and the adoption of the "carrot and stick" approach proposed by President Jonathan earlier this month.   

    "Use carrots to attract them, give them jobs, empower them economically, those who are ready to embrace peace. But those who are not for peace, apply the stick against them," Adegbite said. "Let them be flushed out so that the more moderate ones can take control."   
    Former ambassador Campbell said Boko Haram is a symptom of not only extreme poverty in the north, but also a sense of alienation from the central government in Abuja.  

    In this sense, Campbell says parallels can be drawn to the militants in the country's oil-rich Niger Delta who demand a more equal share of the wealth generated the region.

    "In the north and in the delta, there is a fundamental sense of grievance against the government in Abuja," he said. "The difference, of course, is that in the delta, so far as I can tell, Jonathan won the elections absolutely hands down, whereas in the north, he did not."  

    When it comes to Boko Haram, he said, Mr. Jonathan's government needs to build that support in the north and address not only the violence, but also its root causes.

    You May Like

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    Self-doubt, Cultural Barriers Hinder Cambodian Women in Tech

    Longtime Cambodian tech observer Sok Sikieng says that although more women have joined profession in recent years, there remain significant factors hindering women from reaching tech potential

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    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.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora