Africa

Boko Haram strikes back

By Simon Allison 7 November 2011

Friday in north-eastern Nigeria was a day of violence and bloodshed, with suicide attacks, roadside bombings and running gun battles raging in at least three cities. So much for Nigerian army claims that they’re on top of Boko Haram and the security situation. By SIMON ALLISON.

After a week in which the Nigerian military initiated door-to-door weapons searches and trumpeted the 1,000 firearms confiscated and the one Boko Haram suspect it had apprehended, the Islamist militant group provided a grisly reminder that it’s stronger than ever before.

In a series of coordinated attacks, for which Boko Haram later claimed responsibility, 136 people were killed and a damaging blow dealt to the government’s strategy.

In the problem city of Maiduguri, where the military have been concentrating their efforts, three suicide bombers attacked the military headquarters, wounding several. Three separate roadside bombs exploded in different locations across the city, and gun battles broke out between militants and security forces.

But the real violence was in Yobe state, where – perhaps not coincidentally – a senior army official had claimed recently there was no Boko Haram presence. It certainly proved that wrong. Boko Haram gunmen ran riot through the city of Damaturu, attacking police stations and banks, and the ensuing fight with security forces left a number of mosques and churches destroyed, as well as 136 people dead. Police sources told Nigerian media it was like war, and represented a full-frontal attack on the Nigerian state.

Bombs also went off in Yobe’s second city of Potiskum.

President Goodluck Jonathan has cancelled his travel plans to concentrate on the Boko Haram situation, but on Friday’s evidence it’s not clear that the Nigerian state has the means or the subtlety to deal with a threat that has only increased under his leadership. DM



Read more:

  • Over 136 dead in Yobe Boko Haram attacks in Nigeria’s ThisDay;
  • Dozens killed in northeast Nigeria attacks: witnesses on Reuters Africa.

Photo: REUTERS

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