After a Period of Relative Calm, Boko Haram Violence Escalates AgainMay 20, 2015 in Nigeria
At least eight people were killed Tuesday when a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a livestock market in northeastern Nigeria, as Boko Haram violence begins to escalate after a period of relative calm. The latest attack comes as Boko Haram militants have launched a series of attacks on towns and villages in Borno and neighbouring Adamawa state, prompting fears that the on going military offensive has failed to stem the militant group’s capabilities of carrying deadly attacks.
Tuesday’s suicide bombing targeted a livestock market in a village in Adamawa state, where militants shot dead three people and kidnapped seven women at the weekend. According to state assembly lawmaker Jerry Kundusi, the bombing occurred outside a livestock market at about 1:15 PM (1215 GMT) in the village of Garkida, which is located some 165 kilometres (100 miles) north of the state capital, Yola, and near the state border with Borno. Eyewitnesses have reported, “it was a lone bomber who blew himself up just outside the livestock market.”
Over the past weekend, Boko Haram gunmen killed three people and abducted seven women in a raid on a northeastern district previously declared safe by the military. According to Madagali local government chief Maina Ularamu, “the insurgents attacked the (Sabon Gari Hyembula) village around 10:30 PM (2130 GMT) where they killed three people and kidnapped seven women,” adding that they looted food supplies and left thirteen people injured. Madagali fell under Boko Haram’s control in August and forced thousands of residents to flee their homes. In March, the defense ministry indicated that the area was cleared of insurgents, resulting in those displaced to begin returning home. The latest violence however has forced civilians to flee the region again. This latest attack has also underscored the persisting threat posed by Boko Haram despite the on going military offensive. According to the district chief, militants “have been pushed out of Madagali district but there are still remnants… hiding in nearby mountains and bushes,” adding that the area has recently seen a string of night-time raids, with militants typically targeting food stores and kidnapping people.
Over the past week, Boko Haram violence has escalated, with the militant group carrying out a deadly attack near the Borno state capital and recapturing a strategic town.
Last Wednesday, residents and the army reported that Boko Haram fighters launched an attack on Maiduguri but were repelled by Nigerian troops after intense clashes. Witnesses reported that dozens of militants armed with heavy guns and rocket-propelled grenades stormed the northern outskirts of the city, near the Giwa military base, shooting and firing explosives indiscriminately. In a statement released late Wednesday, the army disclosed that soldiers had fought off “a band of terrorists” and that two bombs carried by female suicide bombers were detonated ahead of the attack. The following day, sources disclosed that at least three soldiers, six vigilantes and dozens of Boko Haram insurgents were killed during clashes. According to civilian vigilante official Yusuf Sani, “three soldiers were killed during a fight with the terrorists while six of our members were killed by three female suicide bombers.” In the aftermath of the attack, the army imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew, with on the ground sources reporting that streets were deserted and that only soldiers and police were seen patrolling. Schools, markets, and public buildings, including hospitals, were also closed. Wednesday’s assault is the first to occur on Maiduguri in three months, following sweeping offensives on Boko Haram strongholds carried out by a regional coalition of troops from Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria.
Meanwhile on Saturday, a young suicide bomber blew herself up in Damaturu, the capital of Yobe state, killing at least seven people and wounding 27 others. According to eyewitnesses, the girl, believed to be aged about 12, detonated the explosives at a busy market near a bus station. While there was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, the attack bears the hallmark of previous Boko Haram suicide bombings. While in recent weeks, a military offensive has recaptured significant amount of territory from the militant group, resulting I the frequency of raids and bomb attacks to significantly decrease, over the past week, several attacks suggest that the militants are returning to guerrilla warfare tactics.
According to a regional official, Boko Haram militants have recaptured the strategic town of Marte in the northeastern Nigerian state of Borno, just weeks after the military indicated that it had contained the militants in a forest stronghold. Since 2013, the town, which is located along a strategic trading route between Nigeria and neighbouring Cameroon and Chad, has traded hands between the jihadists and government troops several times. While a regional military coalition, composed of troops from Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria, has claimed a series of major victories against Boko Haram since it launched an offensive in February, recently, the Islamist group has been pushing back, carrying out a deadly assault on villages near Maiduguri, the first assault on the key northern city in three months. Deputy Governor Zannah Umar Mustapha of Borno state has indicated that officials now fear that hundreds of female suicide bombers may have entered Maiduguri, effectively using the panic that ensued Wednesday evening as hundreds of insurgents tried to attack Giwa Barracks, which is located on the outskirts of Maiduguri.