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Boko Haram attacks Borno and threatens the Niger Delta



Abubakar Shekau.jpg

Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau. Image from AFP.

As if to ridicule the Nigerian government's claims that it has security in the north under control and that it is winning the war, Boko Haram fighters have been on a rampage in Borno state over the past week. And while their Feb. 18 assault on the country home of Major General Tukur Buratai, Commander of the Joint Task Force (JTF) in the Niger Delta was meant as an insult, the following day the group carried out another high-profile attack on the town of Bama.

At approximately 4 a.m. on Feb. 19, Boko Haram gunmen armed with heavy weapons and explosives stormed the town. Residents fled the violence and destruction which, according to a Nigerian senator, lasted for seven hours. At least 98 people have been killed in the attack, Reuters reported, and many buildings, including the palace of the Emir of Bama, were burned to the ground.

According to Borno state's chief of police Lawal Tanko, Boko Haram fighters were finally chased off when the air force was scrambled jets from Maiduguri, resulting in heavy losses for the insurgents as they fled. This is reminiscent of Boko Haram's previous attack on Bama in December 2013, when the group attacked a base belonging to the 202 Tank Battalion, killing an unknown number of soldiers as well as their families who lived with them at the barracks.

Another Shekau video

Later on Feb. 19, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau released a new video to Agence France Presse. In the video, Shekau speaks in Hausa, appearing alongside a tank, two military vans, and about a dozen armed militants. He admits to killing Adam Albani, an Islamic cleric known for preaching against Boko Haram, and threatens to attack other leading Nigerian Muslim figures, including the Shehu of Borno and the Emir of Kano. Shekau states: "The reason why I will kill you is you are infidels. You follow democracy. Whoever follows democracy is an infidel."

Shekau urges his fighters to "hold on to your weapons and continue fighting" and to "understand that our work is not confined to Yobe, Borno and Adamawa." He continues: "Make them understand that we are not restricted by emergency rule. They should understand we are under the canopy of Allah."

As in some of his earlier videos, Shekau threatens a variety of world leaders, including Ban Ki Moon, Benjamin Netanyahu, Queen Elizabeth, and Goodluck Jonathan, and warns Christians and those who attend Western schools that they will be targeted.

Furthermore, while his previous videos derided world leaders, some of whom aren't even alive, Shekau seems to have shifted his focus, and now threatens new attacks in the oil-rich Niger Delta, declaring: "You will in coming days see your refinery bombed," and "Niger Delta, you are in trouble."

Nigeria obtains more than 90 percent of its foreign exchange earnings from oil from the Niger Delta, and produces approximately two million barrels of crude oil per day, the highest oil output in Africa.



READER COMMENTS: "Boko Haram attacks Borno and threatens the Niger Delta"

Posted by Ken North at February 22, 2014 7:10 PM ET:

If Boko Haram does move on the Niger Delta, it will be intriguing to see what role and response is forthcoming from the "Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta" [M.E.N.D.].

The latter organization, an umbrella group for various armed constituencies and secular interests, is intermittently active against the oil industry except when it is not. Boko Haram's intrusion into M.E.N.D. territory even on an occasional basis would probably not go down well absent a persuasive accommodation. That kind of understanding is not in BH's kit bag. While there have been sporadic reports that A.Q.I.M. has had contact with M.E.N.D., M.E.N.D. seems to have been historically far more interested in revenue than religion. Additionally, it is increasingly evident that Boko Haram is benefiting from the talent and tactics of al Nusrah et. al. and has been scaling up accordingly. The December, 2013 complex attack on the Nigerian air force base, conducted at least in company strength, is a persuasive case in point.

In any event, Africom probably needs to be leaning forward notwithstanding the Asian tilt. "Span of control" is always challenging, and, as we learned in Benghazi, it's a long way from Stuttgart . . .

Posted by CyberRezon at February 23, 2014 6:40 AM ET:

thanks admin good post

Posted by peccavi at February 27, 2014 6:43 PM ET:

Ken North, how is MEND in anyway linked to AQIM? AQIM is a desert based group based on Algerian jihadis/ smugglers. MEND are Ijaw (mainly) Christian-animist resource rebels. there is no link whatsoever.

BH would be unable to attack the Niger Delta. They have barely managed to attack Maiduguri since the State of Emergency, except for random assassinations