Nigeria: The Terror Tunnels Of Maiduguri

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July 17, 2013: The government believes the two month old military offensive against Boko Haram has destroyed most of the terrorist bases and safe houses, but most of the full-time Boko Haram and the leadership got away and are rebuilding. Patrols in rural areas are less productive because those areas, especially along the Cameroon border, are thinly populated and forested. There are plenty of places to hide.  

The army and police have been raiding the homes of Boko Haram leaders and searching for weapons and terrorism related documents and equipment. Over a hundred of these kin have been arrested, although most were released after questioning. Some of those arrested are believed to be more involved with Boko Haram than they will admit.

In the northeastern city of Maiduguri police and soldiers continue to search pro-Boko Haram neighborhoods and have found many underground bunkers and tunnels linking several buildings together. There have also been some mass graves found, containing the bodies of Boko Haram victims. There is still a lot of Boko Haram weapons and equipment in these neighborhoods, which is why the security forces continue to maintain their network of checkpoints around the cities. If Boko Haram men can slip back in, there are still caches of weapons and equipment they can use. Finding all the caches may take weeks or longer. There are still some active Boko Haram members in cities like Maiduguri, as well as people (including women and children) still being held in terrorist hideouts. Finding the armed Boko Haram men results in brief firefights, while captives encountered are questioned and released to their families.

Off the coast (in the Gulf of Guinea) kidnapping of sailors (usually officers) for ransom has increased. In the first six months of the year 30 such hostages were taken. These kidnappings are usually part of a robbery of anything portable the gangsters can find on the ship. The Nigerian government is under pressure to increase security off shore and go after the Nigerian gangs more aggressively. If this is not done, shippers will pass on the higher costs to Nigerian customers.

July 16, 2013: In the north (Jigawa state) soldiers raided a home and arrested three Boko Haram members. Four loaded AK-47 rifles were also found.

July 14, 2013: Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau released a ten minute video on the Internet, in which he approved of the July 6 Boko Haram slaughter of 42 students and teachers at a boarding school. Abubakar Shekau promised more such attacks and denounced Western education. Shekau did, however, insist that he did not order the July 6 attack and insisted it was not Boko Haram policy to slaughter children. Destroying schools and killing teachers was, however, encouraged.

July 12, 2013: The military announced that they would soon restore cell phone service in Adamawa state, one of the three states that had service shut down as part of the recent offensive against Boko Haram. There was no indication of when cell phone service would be restored in Yobe and Borno states. Adamawa has been pretty quiet since the initial offensive operations but there is still violence in Yobe and Borno. People in all three states want their cell phone service back and a reduction in the number of roadblocks.

July 11, 2013: In the northwest (Sokoto city) police fought a five hour gun battle with Boko Haram members, killing one of them. Sokoto has largely been free of Boko Haram violence in the last year, in part because the senior Islamic clerics are anti-Boko Haram and very outspoken about it. 

 

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