Nigeria attacks: What Boko Haram assault means

by
January 23, 2012

BBC News

– Boko Haram has shown, once again, that it keeps its promises. It warned several months ago that it would react violently if its jailed members were not released. “These are people who live up to their word,” Nigerian human rights activist Shehu Sani told me.

– The scale and coordination of the attacks reveal an organisation growing in confidence and ambition, and seemingly committed to a long-term insurgency.

– The Nigerian authorities – routinely accused of mishandling and fuelling the insurgency through the heavy-handed actions of security forces – have reportedly allocated 25% of this year’s national budget to defence. Many here fear that a strategy of confrontation, rather than dialogue, will condemn the region to long-term instability.

– Claims that Boko Haram have received training from Somalia’s Al Shabaab have been given added strength by the sophisticated nature of the operation.

– Boko Haram may be a murky organisation with a range of targets and agendas – it has attacked Christians and the United Nations in recent months – but its main focus remains “the establishment” and the police in particular, which it blames for the 2009 killing, while in custody, of its former leader.

– There is a widespread belief that sympathetic elements in the security forces are, at the very least, cooperating with Boko Haram. It remains difficult to know how true that is, and how much is paranoia/propaganda.

– It’s hard to gauge the level of public support the group enjoys. Millions in the north may share its goal of an Islamic state, but precious few have endorsed its violent tactics and many moderate Muslims have been targeted by it.

To read more, visit: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-16672760

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