March 15, 2012: Boko Haram has made it clear that it wants to drive all Christians out of northern Nigeria and then convert the south, by force if need be, to Islam. Boko Haram said they would start the process by kidnapping Christian women and forcing their families to leave the north or the captive would be killed. This would likely lead to a violent reaction in the Christian south where many Moslems live. All that could lead to civil war because the oil is in the south. For over half a century a lot of the oil money has gone north. But much of the oil income has been stolen, more of it by Christians (who are closer to the oil) than northerners. This has always been a source of contention and a factor in the 1968 civil war. A lesser threat is local al Qaeda goals of establishing a multistate religious dictatorship stretching from Mauritania on the Atlantic coast to Somalia on the Indian Ocean coast. Too many tribes and nations are involved for any such unification to succeed but it motivates a lot of the al Qaeda violence in the region.
Many in the north believe that Boko Haram is being corrupted and used by criminal gangs and corrupt politicians for their own ends. There is a feeling that if you want to get revenge on someone in the north, now is the time to do it and blame it on Boko Haram (not more likely culprits like a political or business rival or a gangster refused cash or favors). There is growing evidence to support this.
The army revealed that Boko Haram violence has left over 1,200 dead in the last three years. Police say they have identified the kidnappers of the two foreigners killed on the 7th while a rescue force was on the way. Police say the kidnappers belonged to a Boko Haram faction, while the Islamic terrorist organization denies it. The army also claims that the hostages were murdered before the rescue raid even got going. The two captives were dead when the rescuers arrived, and the kidnappers had fled.
Boko Haram is increasingly practicing what its name ("Western education is forbidden") implies by destroying secular schools. As many as a dozen schools a week are being attacked, and many of them are destroyed. Most northerners oppose this but Boko Haram come armed, and usually at night, to do the deed. Most neighborhoods are unable to muster an armed night watch and the police are, as usual, not very helpful.
March 14, 2012: Boko Haram has offered a four week cease fire but only if all Boko Haram held in prison are freed and many other Boko Haram are given immunity from arrest during negotiations. The government is not interested.
March 13, 2012: In the northern city of Kano Boko Haram gunmen attacked a checkpoint, killing three policeman and a soldier. Elsewhere in Kano there was a gun battle with Boko Haram men but no casualties.
March 12, 2012: In the northern city of Kano Boko Haram gunmen attacked a police station but were repelled.
March 11, 2012: In the central Nigerian city of Jos a car bomb went off outside a church, killing six people.
March 9, 2012: In the northern city of Kano Boko Haram gunmen attacked a police station but were repelled.
March 8, 2012: In the northeastern city of Maiduguri Boko Haram attacked a police station and two banks, leaving four policemen and three civilians dead.
March 7, 2012: In the northern town of Zaria a police raid captured s group of Boko Haram members, some of whom admitted to being involved in the kidnapping of two foreigners last May. The arrested kidnappers also told police where the captives now were, which led to a failed raid to free them.
In the northern city of Sokoto a hundred Nigerian and British commandos sought to free two foreigners (a Briton and an Italian). The kidnappers had shot the captives dead before the commandos got there.