This past week has seen a number of gun attacks and suicide bombings in the northern region of Nigeria, specifically in Kano and in the eastern border town of Ganye. Police have confirmed that suspected Islamist gunmen have launched a series of gun and bomb attacks in a remote town near the border with Cameroon. At least twenty-five people have died in the town of Ganye after gunmen attacked a prison, police station, bank and bar. The most recent attack in Nigeria’s northern region comes just days after two suicide bombers exploded their car at a bus station in Kano.
The simultaneous attacks that occurred in Ganye have killed at least twenty-five people.
According to the police spokesman for the western Adamawa state, Mohammed Ibrahim, the gunmen carried out four simultaneous assaults in Ganye, which is located in the Adamawa state. They opened fire on a bar, a bank, a prison and a police station. The gunmen also set free an unspecified number of prisoners. The police spokesman further noted that the men used explosives and assault rifles in the attack on the police station, during which a policeman was shot. Seven people were shot in the bar, six near the bank while the others were gunned down either outside their homes or on the streets. Troops and policemen who have been deployed to the town have recovered three unexploded bombs, a Kalashnikov rifle and some rounds of ammunition, which were left by the attackers. Although no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, police are suspecting Boko Haram militants to be behind it as the raids resemble previous ones, which have been claimed by the group. Currently, no arrests have been made.
The town of Ganye is located some 100 km (60 miles) from the state capital of Yola. Although it is located near the border with Cameroon, it is not near the area where a French family of seven were kidnapped and taken across from Cameroon into Nigeria last month. The family – a couple, their children (all under the age of twelve) and an uncle – were kidnapped by six gunmen on three motorbikes in Sabongari, which is located 7km from the northern village of Dabanga. Sources close to the French embassy in Cameroon had indicated that the family had earlier visited Waza national park. While the exact border-crossing route taken by the kidnappers remains unknown, it is highly likely that the militants would have remained near the area and crossed over into Nigeria shortly after the kidnapping. As such, while Ganye is too far south from the general area where the family was taken, it is highly likely that the militants may have crossed the border area closer to Maiduguri, which is a known Boko Haram stronghold.
Violence carried out by Islamist insurgents throughout Northern Nigeria has been on the rise in the past weeks after a brief calm. On Saturday, three bombs exploded in the North’s main city of Kano. According to Kano state police spokesman Magaji Majia, one
of the bombings was a suicide attack, however the incident claimed no lives apart from the bomber. In a separate incident, a remote-controlled bomb that targeted a joint military and police checkpoint did wound a number of police officers. A separate gun attack in the city’s Dakata district also killed one person on Saturday. According to Kano state police spokesman, four people have been arrested in connection with the attacks.
On Monday, March 18 a bomb blast, which targeted a bus station in an area of Kano that is mostly inhabited by southern Christians, killed at least 41 people and wounded 65. The attack occurred when two suicide bombers exploded their car into a bus station in Kano, setting off a large explosion that hit five buses. Witnesses have described hearing multiple blasts and seeking wounded victims fleeing the area as authorities cordoned off the scene. The bus station that was targeted in Monday’s attack primarily services passengers who are heading south to the mostly Christian regions of the country. The bus station was previously attacked in January 2012, a blast which left a number of wounded civilians. So far, authorities have not provided any information relating to who is behind this latest bombing. Furthermore there has been no claims of responsibility, however this attack is similar to the hit-and-run tactics that are favored by Boko Haram militants.
With more suicide attacks and bombings occurring every week in the northern region of the country, it is becoming evident that the Nigerian government is finding it difficult to
adequately manage Boko Haram and related criminal gangs who have overtaken militancy in the oil-producing south-eastern Niger Delta region as the main threat to the stability of Africa’s oil producer. Furthermore, while the town of Ganye is located further south, and away from the cities of Kano and Maiduguri, which have been hit by a number of attacks over the past few months, it demonstrates the capabilities of Boko Haram and similar criminal groups in carrying out hit-and-run attacks outside of the normal regions where they are known to operate. It indicates that the militants throughout this region of Nigeria are able to freely move around to stage attacks, signifying that they may also be able to cross over the border into Cameroon in order to carry out attacks and to kidnap westerners. It is also believed that Boko Haram may have members in Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Chad.