Thursday, November 27, 2014 10:06 pm
Schools and health centres were closed in the east of Niger Republic out of fear of attacks by Boko Haram, an Islamist group based in Nigeria which is increasingly staging cross-border raids.
The closures did not follow any official announcement and was first pointed out by a lawmaker in parliament late Wednesday.
“The situation… is very serious, schools are closed and dispensaries are closed along the length of the border,” Foukouri Ibrahim said.
Nigeria’s military has been largely incapable of stopping the bloodshed and Boko Haram is now thought to control more than two dozen towns in the country’s far northeast.
Parts of Niger, Chad, and Cameroon could be next, according to some analysts, with one theory aired that the militants want to recreate the defunct Kanem-Bornu caliphate.
The former Islamic kingdom’s borders corresponded to parts of all four modern-day nations.
The threat of attack has seen Chadian troops increase patrols on Lake Chad, which forms the border with Niger, Nigeria and Cameroon, where the frontier has been shut.
At the start of this month, Boko Haram seized a Nigerian town near the Niger border, leading soldiers and civilians to flee.
The United Nations said Thursday some 10,000 refugees from Nigeria had arrived in eastern Niger this week. More than 100,000 people have already fled to Niger and Cameroon to escape Boko Haram violence.
Niger Prime Minister Brigi Rafini admitted that fear abounded in the country’s eastern Diffa region, adding that measures would be taken next week to relocate the affected students to schools that were open elsewhere.
“The security situation is worrying the population of Diffa, we are hoping for schools and health centres to reopen quickly so that people can resume their normal lives,” a humanitarian source said.
On Thursday, rumours of an impending attack buzzed in Diffa. A local teacher said on telephone that “several people are panicking.”
“Some are saying they have seen armed men in the town and others are talking of a bomb attack,” the humanitarian source said. “There is a fear psychosis.”