In the north (Borno State) over 10,000 civilians have fled their homes to escape air attacks against suspected Boko Haram camps. Some of these camps are in or near residential areas, and a lot of civilians were very close to the explosions and gunfire from ground troops. Many civilians living near the borders of Chad, Niger, or Cameroon have fled the country, as that is the only sure way to escape the air attacks. Boko Haram violence has caused nearly 4,000 deaths in the last four years, most of that has been in the last 18 months. Over 10,000 have been wounded and thousands are in jail, either convicted or accused of working for Boko Haram. In the northeastern city of Maiduguri a week of traffic blockades has reduced food and other shipments. Prices in the markets are up over 25 percent and there is a lot of unhappiness over this.
The offensive in Maiduguri is similar to the one in 2009, that left over 800 dead and reduced Boko Haram activity for a year. But many innocents died in the last offensive and the security forces are under orders to minimize that this time around. There are fewer civilian losses this time around, but it will be a week or more before the exact number is known.
This offensive has made better use of intelligence work and air power. Boko Haram had become bold and sloppy in the last year, often not trying to hide their rural bases. It was the same situation in city neighborhoods where Boko Haram had a lot of supporters, or the locals were too terrified to help the security forces. The police stayed back but took notes. As a result of all the intel the ground and air raids hit many Boko Haram base areas, causing thousands of Boko Haram men to flee with little baggage and few weapons. This is a setback but cell phones and determination will enable the Islamic terrorists to reorganize and resume their attacks.
May 22, 2013: Tribal rebel group MEND in the Niger River Delta called off their plan to attack mosques and Moslem owned businesses when Christian religious leaders persuaded the group that this would make matters worse (by making it easier for Boko Haram to recruit among Moslems in the south).
May 21, 2013: The government announced that it would release all women Boko Haram suspects arrested, as well as some of the men. The government also announced that it is considering an amnesty program for Boko Haram members.
May 20, 2013: In the last week security forces have arrested over 200 Boko Haram suspects. Most of those were taken in the last 24 hours.
May 19, 2013: The thousands of additional troops sent to Maiduguri have been busy. In the last 24 hours 14 Boko Haram men and three soldiers were killed in several gun battles. The city which has long been the center of Boko Haram strength and air force airplanes bombed suspected Boko Haram bases outside the city, as well as others near the international borders. Roads have been blocked, to prevent Boko Haram from sending reinforcements and twelve neighborhoods believed to be Boko Haram strongholds are cordoned off and being searched. This has triggered some of the gun battles.