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 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 4 July, the State Security Service (SSS) reported that it had arrested more than 100 suspected members of the militant Islamist sect, Boko Haram, and had foiled a number of attempted bombings in the past one-and-a-half months.
In a statement issued by the agency’s Assistant Director, Public Relations, Ms Marilyn Ogar, the SSS said: “Successful security operations have led to the arrest of some identified key cell commanders and members of the dissident group in Bauchi, Borno, Kaduna, Kano, Yobe and Adamawa”.
According to the agency, the suspects were arrested in six of the country’s northern states, namely Borno, Bauchi, Kaduna, Kano, Yobe and Adamawa. However, Ms Ogar said, in compliance with President Goodluck Jonathan declared “carrot and stick” approach to the Boko Haram challenge, the suspects would not be prosecuted.
The SSS spokesperson said those arrested were already helping security agents in investigations, by providing information on the sect’s activities. She said as a result, the SSS on 23 May, and also on 10, 14, 27 and 29 June, discovered and successfully demobilized eight Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) mostly in Kaduna State.
She also said the SSS had received information from some patriotic Nigerians which led to the recovery of components of yet-to-be assembled explosives, including a gas cylinder with a pin, detonating cables, a bottle of distilled water, pliers, masking tape and clips. She said the components were recovered in a hotel in Kaduna, meant for a device that was to be detonated in a shopping mall.
The SSS also explained that the mounting of checkpoints on the entrance routes into the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), by military and other security personnel, was a response to security reports on the likelihood of bomb attacks in some parts of Abuja.
The agency apologized to “peace-loving citizens, especially residents of the FCT and its adjoining communities, for the temporary inconveniences they are experiencing” as a result of the road blocks. It said the inconveniences had “become necessary in the interest of our collective safety” and “should be considered as part of the little sacrifices we all have to pay for our collective safety”.