Nigeria: Rebels Rebel


February 10, 2012: Months of Boko Haram violence in the north has not only disrupted the economy up there, but also the economies of neighboring Chad, Niger, and Cameroon. Islamic leaders in the north have demanded that Boko Haram halt its terrorism, in part because of the economic damage all the violence is doing. The religious leaders also speak out against Boko Haram assassinations of their critics, especially clerics. The economic disruptions have cost Boko Haram a lot of public support. The government is pressuring the police and army to tone down the random violence that is usually employed when suppressing rebellions.

In the northeastern city of Maiduguri, six Boko Haram members were found dead, apparently after a factional dispute within Boko Haram. Elsewhere in the city several terrorist bombs went off but caused no casualties.

The government said it has arrested over a hundred foreigners (mainly from Niger, Chad, Mali, and other African nations) as terrorism suspects.

For the last two years MEND (Niger Delta tribal rebels) has been demanding that the army withdraw and all prisoners be freed or else there will be a new wave of attacks on oil facilities. Not much has come of these threats. The MEND rebels want the terms of the 2009 amnesty deal enforced and corrupt officials running the program removed. In response to those threats the military keeps attacking MEND associated camps in the Niger delta, seizing lots of weapons and equipment, but not making many arrests. The rebels tend to hear the troops coming (usually by boat and preceded by aerial reconnaissance) and slip away into an area of numerous creeks and islands they know well. Many criminals in the delta also support rebel goals (for more autonomy in the delta, less corruption, and spending additional oil money locally). Even though the government has screwed up their end of the amnesty deal they insist that the rebels keep the peace. But corruption and mismanagement have kept many rebels from getting the amnesty benefits and the government is seen as unreliable, corrupt, and a hostile force. The MEND threats have been much more ambitious than the actual attacks and it is believed that only a few people are involved in making attacks on oil facilities (which are well guarded these days).

February 7, 2012: Boko Haram has now offered to negotiate with the government but not until all imprisoned Boko Haram members are freed. The government refuses to do this, and other Boko Haram factions deny there is any willingness to negotiate. Basically, Boko Haram wants to convert all Nigerians to Islam and replace the elected government with a religious dictatorship.

In the northern city of Kano police and Boko Haram gunmen fought for several hours. The police won, and eight rebels were killed and several arrested. Many weapons and some bomb making materials were captured.

In the northeastern city of Maiduguri several Boko Haram bombs went off, leaving three dead.

In the northern city of Kaduna Boko Haram carried out three bombing attacks, two of them against military bases, but only killed the attackers.

February 6, 2012: Rebel group MEND took credit for the recent bombing of an oil pipeline. The last time MEND made this kind of announcement was last March. But the government insisted it was an accident, as it only briefly interrupted production.

Elsewhere in the Delta a hotel was bombed as part of a dispute between former rebels who had accepted amnesty, who were demanding cash instead of career training and temporary housing.

February 5, 2012: In the northeastern city of Damaturu gunmen killed a member of police intelligence.

February 4, 2012: In the Niger River Delta an oil pipeline was ruptured by a bomb, halting 200,000 barrels a day of production. Members of the old tribal rebel group MEND took credit.

February 3, 2012: In the northern city of Kogi Boko Haram men attacked a police station and a bank, leaving four dead.

February 2, 2012: Police arrested the spokesman for Boko Haram.





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