Nigeria: anguish amid Boko Haram terror

At least 32 people were killed and dozens more wounded in a Nov. 17 blast at a crowded vegetable market in the northeastern Nigerian city of Yola, capital of war-torn Adamawa state. Yola was also the scene of an Oct. 24 mosque bombing that left 27 dead. These are but the latest in a relentless campaign of terror attacks by Boko Haram that has left over 1,600 dead in Nigeria and neighboring Chad and Cameroon over the past four months. (Al Jazeera, Nov. 17) The new attack comes just as a Nigerian online activist has won acclaim in his country for calling out Facebook's double standards on which terrorist attacks warrant attention. Activst Jafaar Jafaar in a popular post noted the prodigious attention Facebook is devoting the Paris terrorist attacks that have left 130 dead—with a "Safety Check" feature for residents of the city, and a campaign by users to superimpose the French tricolor over their profile pictures. Jafaar especially made note of the January attack at the town of Baga, in Nigeria's northeastern Borno state, in which an estimated 2,000 were killed—eliciting no such response from Facebook. (News24, Nigeria, Nov. 17)

The country's anguish is deepened by growing evidence of the army's incompetence and corruption in the battle against Boko Haram, which declared its loyalty to ISIS earlier this year. On the very day of the new Yola attack, Nigerian authorities ordered the arrest of the former president's national security adviser for allegedly stealing more than $2 billion earmarked to purchase weapons for the war on Boko Haram. "Thousands of needless Nigerian deaths would have been avoided" if the money had been properly spent, Femi Adesina, an adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari, said in a statement. Sambo Dasuki, a key adviser to ex-president Goodluck Jonathan, is accused of awarding "phantom contracts" to buy 12 helicopters, four fighter jets, and bombs and ammunition that never were supplied. Dasuki, a retired army officer who participated in every coup in Nigeria going back to the 1980s, is under house arrest. He denies the charges (AP, Nov. 18)

More terror in Nigeria

Two female suicide bombers killed at least 15 people in a coordinated attack on a market in northern Nigeria's main city of Kano. Dozens more were wounded. The Global Terrorism Index says 6,644 deaths were attributed to Boko Haram in 2014, making it the world's deadliest militant group. (BBC News, Pulse Nigeria, Nov. 18)

Boko Haram mini-state in Nigeria

PBS News Hour runs a very sobering report on Boko Haram, which is consolidating an ISIS-affiliated mini-state in Nigeria, with a capital at Mubi and several tanks it has taken from the army. Boko Haram celebrates its attacks in slick, ISIS-inspired propaganda videos. It pledged allegiance to ISIS and now calls itself the Islamic State of West Africa. The army, meanwhile, continues to commit horrific abuses against the civil population, with arbitrary detention and torture.

Boko Haram defeated? Really?

It seems by the time the above-cited PBS story aired, Mubi had already been recaptured by the Nigerian military. Reuters reported it liberated Nov. 3. We are still skeptical of President Muhammadu Buhari's boast to the BBC yesterday that he had fulfilled his pledge to defeat Boko Haram by year's end. He said "technically won the war" because the insurgents now control little territory (a heartland in Borno state) and have seemingly dimished ability to wage (conventional) war. Of course, the suicide attacks have been getting more frequent and grimly impressive...

Boko Haram burns children alive

Reports are coming from camps and villages outside of Maiduguri, describing a coordinated assault by Boko Haram that lasted throughout the night on Jan. 30. At least 86 were killed in the attack on displaced persons camps and hamlets around the village of Dalori. Witnesses said many of the dead were children who were burned alive as huts and tents were fire-bombed. (Slant)

I'm sorry, what was that about Boko Haram being defeated, President Buhari?

Boko Haram massacres IDPs —again

More than 70 people were killed and a simialr number injured in a double suicide attack at a camp for internally displaced persons at Dikwa, in Nigeria's Borno state. The bombs exploded as camp residents were lining up for food. Both the attackers were apparently women. A third reportedly changed her mind and surrendered to police when she discovered her parents and siblings were living at the camp. (Al Jazeera, VOA, Feb. 10)

The third attacker's change of heart is a slight glimmer of hope, I suppose. But it's OK to kill other people's parents and siblings? For the sin of having fled the merciful rule of Boko Haram?

More terror in Nigeria

Two female suicide bombers killed at least 22 worshippers and injured a similar number in an attack during dawn prayers on a mosque in Umarari, on the outskirts of Maiduguri. It is the first attack on Maiduguri since Dec. 28, when rocket-propelled grenades and multiple suicide bombers killed 50, including people displaced by the war. (AP, March 16)

Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau reported killed

Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau is dead, the Nigerian army announced. Shekau was reported injured and "fatally wounded" in an Aug. 23 airstrike which killed several other Boko Haram leaders. The announcement came not from the army's public relations department, the usual method for releasing information on the fight against Boko Haram, but from Maj. Gen. Lucky Irabor, commander of the Operation Lafiya Dole, the campaign to eradicate the Islamist group. Irabor added a Shekau look-alike, used by Boko Haram in the past for propaganda purposes, was also wounded in the airstrike. (UPI)

Freed Chibok girls reunited with families

Twenty-one schoolgirls who were kidnapped by Boko Haram from the town of Chibok have been reunited with their families. In an emotional ceremony in the capital Abuja, one of the girls said they had survived for 40 days without food and narrowly escaped death when a government warplane dropped a bomb on the village where they were being held. It is unclear how the release was negotiated, but talks are said to be underway to free more of girls. Of the 276 students kidnapped in April 2014, 197 are still missing. (BBC News)

Nigeria: errant air-strike wipes out IDP camp

Nigerian officials say a fighter jet on a mission against Boko Haram extremists mistakenly bombed an IDP camp, killing more than 100 displaced persons and six aid workers. Doctors Without Borders condemned the attack. "This large-scale attack on vulnerable people who have already fled from extreme violence is shocking and unacceptable," said Dr. Jean-Clément Cabrol, MSF director of operations. "The safety of civilians must be respected. We are urgently calling on all parties to ensure the facilitation of medical evacuations by air or road for survivors who are in need of emergency care."

The raid took place in Rann, Borno state, near the Cameroon border. The conflict with Boko Haram in northeast Nigeria has displaced more than 2.6 million people. The military is now engaged in what it calls its final push against Boko Haram in the region. (CBS, NYT, BBC News, Jan. 17)

Nigeria: 82 Chibok girls freed by Boko Haram

Boko Haram militants have released 82 schoolgirls from a group of 276 they abducted three years ago, the president's office says. They were handed over in exchange for Boko Haram suspects after negotiations, and are to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja this weekend. But more than 100 of the girls have yet to be returned.  (BBC News)

More terror in Nigeria

A female suicide bomber blew herself up and killed at least 27 others at a market outside Maiduguri. Two more suicide bombers detonated their devices at the gates to a nearby refugee camp, killing up to 30. In all, at least 83 people were wounded in the three explosions. Boko Haram is believed to be behind the attacks. (Al Jazeera)