Category Archives: NORTHERN VIOLENCE
On 20 February, the military Joint Task Force (JTF) said it killed eight Islamist insurgents who had attacked civilians in a market in Maiduguri, capital of Borno State.
Local residents said the Boko Haram attack on the market was apparently a reprisal against the arrest of a member by some traders four days earlier. On 16 February, a lone gunman had walked into the market on a killing mission; but as he was about to pull the trigger of his AK-47 rifle, some traders over-powered him. A local source said the group probably went back to the market to “teach the traders a bitter lesson” over their action, attacking them with explosive devices which then attracted the JTF’s intervention.
The spokesman for the JTF, Lieutenant Colonel Hassan Mohammed, said: “This afternoon, gunmen suspected to be Boko Haram sect members attacked three civilians at the Baga Road Fish Market. The JTF men came on a rescue operation, engaged the suspects in a shoot-out and succeeded in killing eight of them”.
He further stated that “The JTF detonated three Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and defused several others recovered from the attackers. We also recovered large number of arms and ammunition from them”. He said the JTF had cordoned off the entire area and a “come down and search operation” was going on to uncover any hidden weapons and IEDs. He added that no JTF soldier was wounded or killed in the shoot-out.
On 15 February, gunmen suspected to be members of the militant Islamist sect widely known as Boko Haram, raided a prison in Koton-Karfi, Kogi State, killing a security man and freeing their colleagues who had been held in the facility
Local sources said the attackers, numbering over 20, stormed the prison on motor bikes around 7 pm, immediately after the Magrib prayer. They shot a security man at the gate, killing him instantly. They then blew up the main gate of the prison with an Improvised Explosive Device and went inside.
While shooting to scare any prison officers that may have thought to challenge them, they freed some of their detained colleagues. After the gunmen had left the premises with their members, other prisoners also took advantage of the situation and escaped. The sources said the entire operation lasted about 30 minutes. The number of Boko Haram suspects freed, and of other prisoners that subsequently escaped, is not yet known.
This is Boko Haram’s third attack on a prison in the last 18 months. On 7 September 2010, about 50 Boko Haram gunmen attacked the prison in Bauchi, capital of Bauchi State, enabling the escape of 721 out of the 759 prisoners then held in the facility, mostly suspects arrested after the sect’s uprising in July 2009. Again on 22 April 2011, Boko Haram gunmen broke into the jail in Yola, Adamawa State, and freed 14 prisoners.
On 15 February, the Kano State government released the report of a committee it set up to probe unrest in the city: the report said poor governance, poverty and unregulated migration had turned the largest metropolis in northern Nigeria to “an urban jungle”.
Kano had been in a security crisis, sharply aggravated by the 20 January bomb and gun attacks staged by the militant Islamist sect, Boko Haram, which killed at least 185 people. In the wake of those attacks, the Kano state governor, Alhaji Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, constituted a 15-member committee of political and business leaders to probe the factors fueling unrest in the city.
Magaji Dambatta, who headed the committee, said that “With the virtual collapse of governance structure at community level, making it impossible to keep track of activities in local communities… Kano has unfortunately been reduced to an urban jungle”. The report further cited “the uncontrolled influx of foreigners” as a cause of insecurity. It called for “massive assistance” from the federal government to tackle the city’s staggering poverty and explosive unemployment.
Since 2010, Boko Haram has been waging an insurgent campaign with the goal of establishing Islamic government under strict and comprehensive Sharia law, in the northern parts of the country. While its attacks had been largely in the north-eastern states, the 20 January 20 gun and bomb assault on Kano, was the group’s bloodiest attack. On January 26, a security source said Nigeria had arrested some 200 foreign “Boko Haram ”, mainly from Chad, who may have been involved in the attacks.
On 10 February, authorities in the Federal capital, Abuja, confirmed that the State Security Service (SSS) had re-arrested Mallam Kabir Umar Sokoto, the main suspect in the Christmas Day bombing of St. Theresa’s Catholic Church, Madalla, Niger State, in which 43 worshippers were killed.
Unofficial sources had earlier reported that the suspect was re-arrested by the SSS, in a small hut in Mutum Biu in Taraba State, close to the border with the Republic of Cameroon. Mr Reuben Abati, spokesman for The Presidency, later confirmed the arrest to some newsmen.
Kabir was first arrested by the police on 14 January, at the Borno State Governor’s Lodge in Abuja. He was handed over to a Commissioner of Police (CP), Mr Zakari Biu, for further investigations.
On 15 January, the CP sent a small team of policemen in a Toyota truck, to take him to his residence in Abaji, a town in the Federal Capital Territory, for a search. As the team got into Abaji, some young men believed to be members of his group, attacked and overwhelmed them, and freed the suspect.
A statement by the Police Force Headquarters said the Police viewed that development as “serious negligence on the part of the Commissioner of Police” and therefore queried and suspended him from duty. It added that the CP might be prosecuted, if a criminal case was established against him and his team.
In the aftermath of Kabir’s dramatic escape, many Nigerians described it as a “national embarrassment” and “a shame”. The National Security Adviser, Gen. Owoye Azazi (retd), said it was “a regrettable drawback on our efforts” to fight terrorism in the country. Within the police top brass, several officers expressed muted displeasure at what they saw as a major bungle. Many citizens called on the Police chief, Mr Ringim, to either hand in his resignation or be fired by President Goodluck Jonathan.
On 18 January, at the instance of the President, the Minister of Police Affairs, retired Navy Captain Caleb Olubolade, issued the police boss a query, asking him to explain within 24 hours, the circumstances surrounding the escape. The query also asked Ringim to show why he should not be punished for negligence, since the ultimate responsibility for keeping the suspect was his, as the nation’s Number One police officer.
On 19 January, the Police offered a reward of 50 million naira (about 309,600 USD) to anyone who could provide information that would lead to the recapture of the suspect. It is not known whether any informant contributed to the re-arrest of the suspect, but it is common knowledge that the embarrassment of his escape from police custody contributed to the sudden end of Mr Hafiz Ringim’s tenure as the nation’s police chief on 25 January 2012.
On 7 February, suicide bombers targeted two military bases as another bomb detonated at a busy overpass near a motor park in Kaduna, capital of Kaduna State.
According to a statement by the spokesman of the 1 Mechanised Division headquarters, Lt. Col. Abubakar Edun, two attackers driving bomb-laden cars (a Sienna Toyota space bus and a Honda Accord) struck at the headquarters of the 1 Mechanised Division of the Nigerian Army at about noon.
Refusing to stop, they overran the security post and the lawn leading to the headquarters complex. A soldier opened fire on the Toyota car, causing the car to swerve and explode at a car park. But the Honda car did not explode.
Edun said: “The Honda Accord which did not explode was loaded with ten numbers of 20 litres of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), four numbers of 30litres loaded with IEDs and two numbers of large peak milk containers also loaded with IEDs”. He said the bomber in the Toyota Sienna died in the attack and that the Army recorded no casualty.
In his own account of the incident, the Nigerian Army Headquarters spokesman Maj-Gen Raphael Isa told newsmen in Abuja that a suicide bomber dressed in a military uniform attempted to drive a car bomb into the 1 Mechanized Division headquarters. Soldiers guarding the gate opened fire on the man, who died from gunshot wounds.
“The soldiers repelled the attack and were able to stop what will have been a suicide bombing. However, after firing (at) the suicide bomber who tried to force his way, the bomb exploded and shattered the glasses that adorn the frontage of the headquarters. The suicide bomber was the only casualty,” Isa, who is the director of Army public relations, said.
Soon after the attack at the 1 Division headquarters, two other blasts went off near the Air Force base and at the Kawo flyover.
On the incident at the Air Force base, Air Force spokesman Air Commodore Yusuf Anas said some attackers tried but failed to get through the gate. They then threw an explosive about 500 meters from the outer fence of the base.
Anas said: “They used all these locally made bombs. They used fertilizer and some things to generate some serious detonation”.
At the Kawo flyover, the explosion occurred directly opposite the Kawo Motor park, which is the largest in the city. The popular Kawo weekly market which holds only on Tuesdays was in its peak trading hours, bustling with traders and buyers at the time the bomb exploded. Sources said many people were injured while running for their dear lives.
Later in the day, the militant Islamist group, widely known as Boko Haram, claimed responsibility for the attacks. A man claiming to be the sect’s spokesman, reportedly told journalists by telephone in Maiduguri that: “Government and security agencies have turned against us and betrayed the truce we offered. That is why we attacked Kaduna. And henceforth, we will always attack any town or city where our members are exposed or arrested”.
On 6 February, gunmen and bombers, suspected to be members of the militant Islamist sect, Boko Haram, set the Sharada police station on fire, in Kano, capital of Kano State.
A senior police officer said the police station had been burned down by attackers armed with explosives. He said in the shootout between the attackers and the police, a police officer was shot in the leg.
The attack reportedly occurred around 6pm, just before the commencement of a dusk-to-dawn curfew imposed on the city following the 20 January multiple bomb and gun attacks that killed over 200 people. One resident said she saw the police station on fire from her house and that more policemen and soldiers were later deployed to the area. Others said spent bullets and used explosives littered the grounds around the area, after the gun duel between the attackers and the police.
The Kano State Police Command confirmed the incident, saying one police man was hurt, but it was yet to give further details.
Local sources also said they heard a separate gun battle in the Mariri area of the city. Some said the sounds of gunfire came from an area suspected to be a Boko Haram hideout on the outskirts of Kano. They said a security team had apparently raided a home in the neighbourhood, leading to a shootout with the occupants. Others said the gunshots seem to have come from the Danladi Nasidi police station in the area. There had been no official statement from the police.
On 6 February, multiple blasts occurred at the Gamboru market and a nearby pharmaceutical store in Maiduguri, capital of Borno State. There had been no official casualty report, but three persons were feared killed with several vehicles and shops razed.
Local sources said three blasts hit the ‘Yan Robobi area of the market and two others struck D.K Pharmacy, one of the biggest pharmaceutical stores in the city. The sources said the owner of the pharmacy and two of his employees were killed, as the explosives destroyed the building that housed the store.
Colonel Victor Ebhaleme, chief operations officer of the military Joint Task Force (JTF) in Maiduguri, confirmed the explosions at the market to some newsmen but reportedly gave no further details.
Maiduguri is the base of Boko Haram, the militant Islamist group responsible for a series of bomb and gun attacks against security operatives and institutions as well opposing Muslim clerics and Christians in several northern states of the country. Its attacks have killed more than 200 people in the past five weeks since the beginning of the year.
However, no group has claimed responsibility for the attacks on the market and the pharmacy store – or for the assassination of two persons in the Ummarari ward of the metropolis the previous night.
Boko Haram confirms slaughtering 6 “traitors”, threatens more “executions” in Maiduguri, Borno State
On 2 February, a spokesman for the militant Islamist sect, Boko Haram, confirmed that it was his group that killed the six men slaughtered on the night of Wednesday 1 February, in Maiduguri, capital of Borno State.
The six men were killed in the Shehuri north area of the city, by assailants who trailed them to their houses around midnight and slaughtered them with knives. In a statement following the killings, the spokesman of the military Joint Task Force (JTF), Lt Col Hassan Mohammed, had said preliminary investigations revealed the men were “slaughtered by persons suspected to be their fellow sect members”. He had also suggested that the killings “may have been as a result of division among sect members”.
In a telephone interview with some journalists in Maiduguri, the Boko Haram spokesman who identified himself as Abul Qaqa, confirmed the JTF’s revelation. He said the six men were slaughtered because they were among the traitors who betrayed 11 members of the sect, leading to their elimination by JTF four days earlier.
He further disclosed that the six men slaughtered were only part of a longer list of persons whom the group plans to eliminate. He said: “We have earmarked 30 of them for execution because they betrayed our group”.
It will be recalled that on 28 January, 11 members of Boko Haram were killed by JTF in Maiduguri. In the wake of those killings, the victims’ families had claimed that the men killed were not members of the militant sect, alleging human rights violations and demanding a probe.
The confirmation by the Boko Haram spokesman seems to have put paid to those denials and demands. It also seems to confirm the JTF’s suspicion of a feud within some members of the sect. It thus raises fears of further factional killings within the group in Maiduguri.
On 2 February, the militant Islamist sect, Boko Haram, said its “senior member” arrested by security operatives the previous day was Abu Dardaa, not Abu Qaqa, as had been reported by some security and media sources. The group also claimed the man was arrested after he had started exploratory talks with “key fuctinaries of the Federal Government”.
In a telephone interview with some journalists in Maiduguri, a Boko Haram spokesman said: “The person that was arrested is Abu Dardaa and not Abu Qaqa. I am Abu Qaqa. I’m the spokesman of the Jama’atu Ahlis Sunnati Lidda’awati Wal Jihad (Boko Haram). Abu Dardaa is the head of the Lagina (Department) of Public Enlightenment and not the spokesman”. He added that: “Of course, Abu Dardaa is a senior member of our group”.
The spokesman alleged that the group was deceived by the government’s offer of dialogue and that the man arrested was trailed and picked up by security operatives shortly after he had an interaction with some “key functionaries of the Federal Government on the issue of dialogue”.
He said: “We initially thought that the much-talked-about dialogue was true and we actually resolved that after the initial meeting with Dardaa, we would send five representatives to stand for us. Part of what we told him to discuss with the government representatives was the unconditional release of our members as pre-condition for any further discussion”.
The spokesman further said that: “Indeed, he (the arrested man) had started talking to them but, unknown to him, they directed some security agents to trail him behind and arrested him. This is exactly what happened…Everybody knows our capability and tactics of operation. It is evidently clear that none of our members could be caught on a platter of gold and without confrontation”.
The spokesman further said: “The arrest of Abu Dardaa is an outright deception and betrayal by the Nigerian government and security agents…His arrest has proven to us that they were waiting for us to avail ourselves so that they can arrest us”.
He said: “I want to reiterate that we want all our members to be released for peace to return and for dialogue to hold”. He added that the arrest of its members will not deter his group from its campaign and the pursuit of its goals.
The group, loosely modelled on Afghanistan’s Taleban, says it is fighting to establish Islamic government, based on strict and comprehensive application of Sharia law, in at least 12 of Nigeria’s 36 states. In July 2009, it launched an uprising in the northeastern Borno State and, in five days of fighting with security forces, more than 800 people were killed. The group’s leader, Mohammed Yusuf, was among those killed.
Regrouping in late 2010, the group has conducted an increasinly deadly campaign targeting mostly police, military and other government personnel and institutions, but also Christians and churches.
In June 2011, it sent a first ever suicide bomber to the national headquarters of the police in the federal capital, Abuja; in August it bombed the Abuja office complex housing the 26 United Nations agencies working in Nigeria, killing 25 people. On Christmas Day, it bombed a church in Madalla near Abuja, killing over 40 worshippers. Most recently, on 20 January, its multiple bomb and gun attacks killed at least 186 people in Kano, the largest city in northern Nigeria.
On 2 February, six persons were killed by unknown assailants in Maiduguri, capital of Borno State. The military Joint Task Force (JTF) said the victims were probably members of the militant Islamist sect widely known as Boko Haram, and may have been eliminated by their own colleagues.
The six people were killed while sleeping in their homes in Shehuri North, a northern part of the city known as the base of Boko Haram.
A statement signed by the Public Relations Officer of the JTF, Lieutenant Colonel Hassan Mohammed, said the victims may have been killed by people suspected to be members of Boko Haram, as a result of a division within the sect.
Colonel Mohammed said: “Preliminary investigations reveal that the six deceased persons were suspected to have been slaughtered by persons suspected to be their fellow Boko Haram members….The killing may have been as a result of division among Boko Haram sect members”.
In other incidents, multiple blasts occurred in parts of the city early in the day. Col Mohammed confirmed that they were caused by Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) but said there were no casualties. He said the JTF had also defused some unexploded devices and advised residents to remain security conscious and alert.