Attacks Continue as Nigeria Announces Arrest of Suspect with Links to Chibok AbductionsJuly 2, 2014 in Nigeria
At least eighteen people were killed Tuesday, and fifty-five others were injured, after an explosion at a market in Maiduguri in northeastern Nigeria.
According to on the ground sources, the attack occurred near Maiduguri’s busiest roundabout, which is located near the popular Monday Market, during morning rush hour. Nigeria’s defense headquarters has confirmed the attack, stating “a van loaded with charcoal and IED exploded at Monday Market in Maiduguri this morning. The location has been cordoned off.” Multiple eyewitnesses have reported that crowds at the scene attempted to attack firefighters deployed to the area, accusing them of arriving too slowly and hindering their efforts to put out the blaze. Although there was no immediate claim of responsibility, officials are blaming Boko Haram militants. Despite attacks in Maiduguri once being a daily occurrence, a military offensive launched last year, and backed by local vigilante groups, has had some success in flushing the insurgents out of the city and into the remote areas of Borno state, where Maiduguri is the capital. However those gains appear to have now been lost, as a series of attacks in the city this year have targeted civilians and the security services. In January, a bomb attack targeted one of the city’s crowded markets while in March, hundreds of militants stormed the military’s Giwa Barracks, setting free a number of militants who were in prison.
Meanwhile on Monday, Nigeria’s military announced that it has broken up a Boko Haram intelligence cell, arresting its leader who is alleged to have taken part in the April 2014 abduction of over 200 schoolgirls. A statement issued by the defense headquarters indicated that troops have found a militants’ “intelligence cell” headed by a businessman “who participated actively in the abduction of schoolgirls in Chibok,” in northeastern Borno state on April 14. The statement further added that the businessman has been identified as Babuji Ya’ari, who also is a member of a civilian youth group, known as the Civilian Joint Task Force (JTF), which has worked along with the military to fight Boko Haram. The suspect is alleged to have used his position within the youth group as a cover to work for the militants. Officials from the Nigerian military also indicated Monday “the arrest of the businessman who is known to deal in tricycles has also yielded some vital information and facilitated the arrest of other members of the terrorists’ intelligence cell who are women.” The military has accused the suspect of spying for the Islamist militant group as well as spearheading the murder of Emir of Gwoza in Borno state one month ago, adding that since 2011, the suspect has been coordinating several deadly attacks in Maiduguri, including the attacks on customs and military locations in the town. It remains unclear whether this arrest will help in the rescue of the 219 schoolgirls who are still missing.