Wednesday, 8 May 2013

More than 50 dead in Boko Haram raid

According to a number of sources, 55 people have been killed in Bama, in the north eastern Nigerian state of Borno, in a co-ordinated attack by Boko Haram militants. It is understood that 200 heavily armed members of the Islamist group arrived in the town in the early hours of Tuesday morning and attacked a police station, military barracks and government buildings before freeing 105 inmates. Among the dead are police officers, prison wardens, soldiers, a small number of civilians and 13 members of Boko Haram.

The attack represents the rebels' single most deadly strike since the uprising began in 2009 and possibly the most significant since the Kano bombings in early 2012. It follows a government raid in Baga last month, also in the state of Borno, targeting rebels who had earlier attacked a military patrol. Over 200 people were allegedly killed and thousands of buildings destroyed in what was described by some observers as the government's use of “excessive force”. Similar operations by the authorities in late 2012 were thought to have diminished the threat posed by Boko Haram, who killed an estimated 1,000 people last year.

President Goodluck Jonathan has established a committee to lay out the terms of an amnesty for the group, but so far their leader, Abubakar Shekau, has declined to enter negotiations. Boko Haram wishes to establish an Islamic, Shari'a state in Nigeria, a country roughly divided equally between Christians and Muslims, and has previously carried out several prison breaks to free it members.

For more news and expert analysis about Nigeria, please see Nigeria Focus and Nigeria Politics & Security.

© 2013 Menas Associates

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