Boko Haram: Actions During December 2014
State capital of Yobe, Damaturu, got hit at dawn as insurgents set fire to a mobile police station. Moreover, Boko Haram members opened fire towards an air force jet which was circling the area and was dropping bombs against them. The terrorist group was scattered from the ground by late afternoon thanks to military forces that used both air and ground forces. This was followed by two blasts that took place in Maiduguri, capital of Borno state, in the afternoon. It is said that there we five dead bodies and 43 injured. The attack was led by two female suicide bombers. The same market was targeted once again on the 25thof November, by two female bombers, which lead to death of 78 people.
In Damaturu the locals have heard the fighters shouting “Allahu Akbar” that means “God is greatest”. An eye witnessed said that “they mounted anti-aircraft guns and they are trying to shoot the aircraft that was bombarding the town. They were all turning their heads shooting.” At least 59 people were killed during the events in Damaturu. 33 were policemen, 6 were soldiers and 20 were Boko Haram militants. Local security sources stated that the insurgents took away their victims with 4 pick-up trucks. As a reaction to this event, President Goodluck Jonathan, asked the national assembly to extend the state of emergency for the most affected states, Yobe, Borno, Adamawe, as it expired on November 20.
Cameroon officials held talks debating if they should impose the death penalty on those who are discovered of being involved in acts of terrorism. This comes as a reaction to the continuous movements of Boko Haram towards its territory. Insurgents have confronted the Cameroonian soldiers in the far north region of the country and were to blame for dozens of killings and kidnaps in the area.
Officials fear that militants are targeting young people from impoverished area to join the group. “The draft law provides the ultimate penalty, the death penalty, for anyone who personally, in complicity or under coercion comments a terrorist act” said Parliament Speaker, Cavaye Yeguie Djibil. Besides this, the act also states that the death penalty applies for persons who carry out “any activity which can lead to a general revolt of the population or disturb the normal functioning of the country” and for “anyone who supplies arms, war equipment, bacteria and viruses with the intention of killing.”
Contradictory opinions did not cease to appear as Forbi Nchinda of the opposition’s Social Democratic Front stated that the law is out-of-date: “The whole world is moving away from the death penalty. Now they are using the death penalty for people who are accused of terrorism. That is unacceptable the world over. Even in Cameroon, I don’t think for the past 20 years anybody has been executed because the tendency has been to move away from the death penalty.” Opinions are divided with some encouraging it and others saying it is just a political movement to ensure more power for the actual governance. Cameroon recently reinforced its military presence on its border with Nigeria, in the northeast, to combat the insurgents. It announced it had prepared a special commando unit of around 850 soldiers specially trained for this type of events.
An assault into a prison in the city of Minna, capital of Niger state, led to the freeing of approximately 270 inmates. Book Haram and another al Qaeda linked group, known as Ansaru, have been behind other prison raids in the past years, but it is uncertain if they are to blame for this event. “It is unclear if this is Boko Haram or some criminal gangs. I doubt there were much high profile Boko Haram suspects being held in Minna” security source said.
A twin bomb attack killed at least 40 people in a bus station in the city of Jos, in the commercial Terminus district. A similar event took place in May and led to the death of 118 persons. “I saw a flash of light and heard a loud boom. Afterwards there was a debris everywhere and mutilated bodies” eyewitness Tanko Mohammed said. There are no factual evidences to link Boko Haram directly to the event, but, as for the majority of the attacks, they are the main suspects.
As a reaction to the unfortunate event the Archbishop Ben Kwas told BBC that “Government must step up, to show that it cares about the weak, about the poor, about those who have no means at all in the society.” Jos is the central point of the country were the two religious majorities, Christian – south and Muslim – north, meet.
France’s Defense Minister advised Nigeria and its neighbors, Cameroon, Niger and Chad, to cooperate on strategically issues in order to regain control in front of the precarious Islamic group, Boko Haram. “There is a serious threat to the integrity of Nigeria and for its neighbors be it Cameroon, Niger or Chad. For this reason we’d like to see a military liaison committee set up between the authorities of these four countries to help coordinate their action and their capacity to respond.” France Minister of Defense, Jean-Yves Le Drian. He also stated that even though France has no intention, for now, of direct involvement on the ground it can provide several officers to encourage and guide the effort of these affected countries.
The four countries commonly decided in July to join their forces by preparing 2.800 soldiers for confronting the insurgents, but so far there has been too little action coming from the parties. Lake Chad, the meeting point of these countries is the stronghold of Boko Haram. United Nations special envoy to the Sahel region, Hiroute Gebre Selassie, told Reuters “The action should be proportional with the magnitude of what’s at stake. There are efforts, but there is nothing that suggests to me that the magnitude of (the problem) is reducing. On the contrary.”
Cameroon military killed 116 insurgents after Boko Haram conducted a morning attack on a base in the region of Amchide, Far North area of the country. The Islamic group attacked from Lake Chad, which is the meeting point of Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Chad. “A column made up of a military truck and four pick-ups from the BIR (elite Rapid Intervention Battalion) were caught in an ambush that began with an explosion of a roadside bomb. At the same time…, the Amchide military base was attacked by hundreds of fighters from the sect, but the response from our defense forces was instant and appropriate” the army said.
The losses of the military are uncertain, but it is said that at least one soldier has died and two vehicles were lost, as well, some weapons might have been seized. Apparently Boko Haram developed a second attack, by night, but casualties are unknown. The casualties of the dispute are determined by the army that estimates the death tolls visually or by counting the number of vehicles it had destroyed and then estimates how many persons a vehicle could carry. Cameroon military spokesman Col. Didier Badjeck believes that the attack was a reaction as in the previous week 25 insurgents were captured in the villages of Ngouma, Sagme, Ardebe, Dambore and Soueram. Cameroon announced this month that they planned on recruiting 20,000 defense and security new members in order to maintain the fight against Boko Haram.
Two bomb attacks at bus station and a market place led to the killing of at least 26 persons and wounded around 60. There were two bombs detonated at a bus station, at Dukku Motor Park, in the city of Gombe that killed 19 people and wounded another 25 persons, police authorities in Gombe said. “The second blast was worse than the first one because many people rushed to the scene and were affected. Many were killed and many injured,” witness Mohammed Fawu told Reuters by phone. The setting of twin bombs is a common guerilla tactic which has the purpose of maximization its casualties.The second attack took place at the Central Market in the city of Bauchi, few minutes before 6PM. The bombing killed at least seven persons and injured 19 more as well as a huge fire around the area.So far there is no official information regarding the detonators, if there were suicide bombers or not, however, eyewitnesses from the motor park stated that a suicide female bomber was involved. Bauchi State Governor, Mallam Isa Yuguda, described the event as unfortunate and barbaric.
On the same day, Cameroon’s army disassembled one of Boko Haram’s training camps after local people alerted the military forces. They arrested and killed militants as well as recovered 84 children who were being trained on location. “The rapid Intervention Battalion of our army immediately launched an attack, seized 84 children between 7 and 15 who were undergoing training in the camp, arrested 45 of the trainers and killed many more.” Said Lieutenant Colonel Didier Badjeck, spokesman for Cameroon’s Ministry of Defense. The authorities are currently seeking out to find out if the children are Cameroonians or Nigerians. Hostages were taken to the capital of the country, Yaounde, for further investigations. The camp was situated in the Mayo-Danay district in Cameroon’s Far North region, in Guirvidig, close to the Nigerian border. The spokesman of Cameroon’s Ministry of Defense did not stated anything about the situation of the battalion, if there were casualties or not.
Around 1,000 fighters, suspected Boko Haram, launched an attack during the weekend on five Cameroonian towns and occupied, for a short period, a military camp on Sunday. Insurgents were removed by air force, this being the first air strike against insurgents led by Cameroon that was personally commended by the President Paul Biya. “Fighter planes went into action for the first time since the start of the conflict. After two strikes and heavy fire … the assailants fled the Assighasia camp, losing several fighters.” Communications Minister Issa Tchiroma Bakary said in a statement late on Sunday. He also added that the military operations are ongoing until the evaluation of the site is complete.
The target of the attack was the military camp in Achigachia, close to the Nigerian border. The heavily armed group moved in around 4AM and after the heavy battle abandoned the camp. At least 41 insurgents and one soldier have died in the incident. This was the most intense fight so far, as it lasted for 3 days. According to local reporter from Al Jazeera, Eugene Nforngwa, this was the first time when Boko Haram managed to take over a camp in the Far North of Cameroon. Cameroon state radio CRTV reported that “the attacks were carried out simultaneously at the localities of Mokolo, Guirvidig, Waza, Amchide and Makari, villages along the frontier with Nigeria”. The Cameroonian military beliefs that the militants target several borders with Cameroon in order to expand their caliphate. Nforngwa said that they might be as well recruiting for fighters.
As Boko Haram increased its influence in the country, the state encouraged the people to form vigilante groups and to report every unusual movement in the area, they also have enforced a semi-curfew including on the movement of motorbikes.
Who are Boko Haram?
They are an insurgent group established in the northern Muslim part of Nigeria. The group started its activity in 2002 but increased its violence starting with 2009. The group is led by Abubakar Shekau, preceded by Mohammed Yusuf. Boko Haram massacres civilians, seizes towns and carries out kidnappings, especially targeting women and children. US declared it a terrorist group starting with 2013. So far it is said that they have killed around 5,000 only this year and around 11, 1211 since the beginning of the insurgency, according to The Nigeria Social Violence Project.
Their name might be an answer to what their mission is as it means “Western education is forbidden”, they are fighting to form an Islamic state under the Sharia law. The number of the attacks led by the militants rose dramatically during this year due to the following presidential elections in February 2015. More than a million Nigerians, from the northern area, are displaced at the moment because of the actions of the insurgents which can lead up to difficulties for the elections as the people might not be able to vote. Their activity is expected to increase as the group promotes a version of Islam that forbids its followers to get involved with any political or social activity that can be associated with the West. Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad is the official name of the group and it means “People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad”.