Nigeria: This Means Wars


February 1, 2012: Boko Haram has killed nearly 300 people so far this year, compared to only about 700 during the previous three years. Most of the violence has been in Kano, a northern, largely Moslem, city of nine million. In the last two weeks half a dozen police stations and facilities have been destroyed in Kano. The police have suffered several hundred casualties (dead, wounded, deserters). The police in Kano, like the rest of Nigeria, are corrupt and incompetent. The public generally considers the police a public menace and the Boko Haram attacks are popular for that reason. But the cops do suppress some crime and maintain some order. Since the Boko Haram attacks most police are staying off the streets. The only security forces you see on the streets are army patrols. The army is less corrupt than the police but more violent. The criminals are taking advantage of the situation, causing civilians to be wary and stay off the streets more often.

The violence in Kano, and breakdown in what little law and order there was, has caused a growing number of people to flee. Most of the refugees are Christians, a group Boko Haram has openly declared that it will attack. At least 10,000 have left this month, either to areas outside the city or in the Christian south.

Christian clerics and politicians in the south are urging people to refrain from religious violence. In fact, there has not been much "revenge" violence in the south as there usually is when there is another outbreak of anti-Christian violence in the north. As is the custom in most of the world most of the religious violence is instigated by Moslems, who are obsessed with the idea that Islam is under attack. But most of the problems found in the Moslem population (corruption, little education, poverty) are self-inflicted. Nearby Christian populations tend to be better educated and thus wealthier. This is considered anti-Moslem and obviously the result of some Christian conspiracy against Islam.

Boko Haram has developed internal dissent and produced its first known splinter group. Calling themselves Ansaru (for Ansarul Muslimina Fi Biladis Sudan or "Vanguards for the Protection of Muslims in Black Africa"). Ansaru objects to the many Moslems who are being killed by Boko Haram attacks. It is unclear how large Ansaru is and how much violence within Boko Haram, if any, will result from the split. It is believed that there is considerably more strife between Boko Haram leaders, with many strong-willed men, each with an armed following, trying to control the entire movement. At the moment, Boko Haram is on a roll and most of these disagreements are put aside. But with the appearance of Ansaru that appears to be changing.

January 30, 2012: In the northern city of Kano Boko Haram attacked another police station, and two civilians were killed in the crossfire.

In the northeastern city of Maiduguri Boko Haram attacked an air force barracks and a police station. An airman, two policeman, and two civilians were killed.

January 29, 2012:  In the northern city of Kano Boko Haram attacked another police station.

January 28, 2012: In the northeastern city of Maiduguri 11 Boko Haram men were killed at an army check point.

January 27, 2012: Boko Haram announced that it would not negotiate, would continue to attack in Kano, and would extend their terror to another major city. The Boko Haram leader (identified as Abubakar Shekau) accused the United States of attacking Islam and said his group would continue attacking soldiers and police and kidnap their families as well. Boko Haram's objective is to establish a religious dictatorship in Nigeria and to convert (or drive out) all Christians (who are half the population, mainly in the south, where the oil is.)

The governors of the 19 northern (Moslem) states met with federal officials and agreed that Boko Haram must be destroyed. The problem is that the governors and state officials are seen as corrupt and inept by most Nigerians. Thus few people are willing to risk anything to protect these politicians (who win elections via corruption and coercion).

January 26, 2012: In response to the January 20 attacks in Kano (which killed nearly 200) soldiers and police have arrested over 200 suspects. Most of them were described "mercenaries" from Chad (which has been suffering civil war for years). The government believes Boko Haram has camps in Chad, which would not be difficult. There's not much government or policing in Chad.

In the northern city of Kano someone kidnapped a German engineer, who worked for a company in the city. Kidnapping is popular with criminal gangs and the recent Boko Haram attacks have driven the police from the streets. This makes it easier for gangs to carry out kidnappings.

January 24, 2012: In the northern city of Kano Boko Haram attacked another police station with gunfire and explosives.

January 22, 2012: The Boko Haram attacks in Kano two days ago killed and wounded far more people than originally believed. There were over 500 casualties, including about 180 known dead.




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