Wednesday, May 28, 2014 3:58 pm
Articulated and well coordinated terrorist attacks in Nigeria’s North Central region in recent weeks indicate an emerging strategy by Boko Haram to widen its operations beyond the north-eastern region
Last Tuesday, double explosions rocked Jos, the Plateau State capital. The explosions, which occurred along the Murtala Muhammed Way, close to the old site of the University of Jos, where a makeshift market had developed since the main market in the metropolis was burnt several years ago, were caused by vehicle-laden improvised explosive devices, trademarks of the Islamic fundamentalist insurgents, Boko Haram, which have been spreading terror and destruction of life and property in Nigeria’s north-eastern region.
The attack, which claimed the lives of 118 people with 45 injured, according to the National Emergency Management Agency, came in the wake of another double bomb blasts which rocked a bus terminal in Nyanya, about 16km to Abuja city centre, where over 90 persons were killed. Before the Jos blasts, a devastating bomb explosion had rocked Kano, where a suspected suicide bomber detonated improvised explosive devices at the centre of the largest city in the North, killing scores, while attacks in Shawa and Alagarno, villages near Chibok in the southern part of Borno State where over 200 schoolgirls were recently abducted, claimed the lives of another 48 people.
Moving from Kano to Abuja and now Jos, indicates that a form of outward spreading strategy is playing out in Boko Haram’s terrorist operational agenda, and clearly shows a cleverly designed tactic to stretch Nigeria’s beleaguered security forces which are facing increasing knocks across the country for failing to tame the insurgents.
Boko Haram is believed to have ideologically affiliated itself with the al-Qaeda terrorist group and has demonstrated similarity with al-Qaeda operating tactics in the recent multiple attacks in the North Central region. The second explosion in Jos came about 30 minutes after the first explosion went off, as workers were working to rescue victims from wreckages and debris of the blast thereby maximising casualty figures – a typical al-Qaeda tactic.
In the emerging strategy of spreading terror beyond its north-eastern enclave, pundits believe that Boko Haram may be working with another Islamic group, Ansaru Networks, which reportedly carried out more than 15 bombings in Jos, Kaduna and Abuja between 2010 and 2012, even though the attacks were attackd to Boko Haram. This strategy may be calculated to force Nigerian security forces to spread to other areas of attacks and possible attacks, thereby reducing the number of personnel deployed to the north-eastern region.
Former US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. John Campbell, now a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, recently observed that Ansaru Networks seems to be reappearing, but was quick to add that very little is known about the the Ansaru group and its leadership.
The insurgents spent hours unchallenged in Shawa and Alagano villages last Wednesday, looting and killing villagers without any form of military confrontation in an area that is supposed to be witnessing a high level of military presence following the recent abduction of over 200 schoolgirls from Chibok, which is but a stone’s throw from Alagano. Increasingly successful attacks by the insurgents in recent weeks have humiliated the federal government and military.
In its reaction to the Jos twin bomb blasts, the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, described the explosions as wicked and gruesome. The forum’s national publicity secretary, Alhaji Muhammad Ibrahim, noted that the northern parts of the country have experienced too many bomb blasts in the last six years. These, he maintained, had distorted the North’s economic life and undermined its socio-economic development.
Following the twin blasts in Jos, President Goodluck Jonathan reiterated his usual condemnation of the activities of the Boko Haram sect, noting that his administration would not be cowed by what he referred to as “the atrocities of enemies of human progress and civilisation”.
While directing relevant agencies to mobilise support and relief efforts in aid of the victims, the President further re-echoed his earlier promise that his administration would rebuild the Chibok school and fortify security in schools. He assured Nigerians that his government remains fully committed to winning the war against terror and will not be cowed by the atrocities of enemies of human progress and civilisation.