Date: October 23, 2015
One again, Boko Haram is the main suspect for the killings of both Christians and Muslims
By Nigeria-born Dan Wooding, Founder of the ASSIST News Service
MAIDUGURI AND YOLA, NIGERIA (ANS – October 23, 2015) -- Two bomb attacks in north-eastern Nigeria have left at least 42 people dead and more than 100 injured, officials say.
According to the BBC, at least 27 people died when a bomb targeted a newly opened mosque in the town of Yola.
“Earlier, 15 people were killed in a suicide bombing in Maiduguri,” said the story.
It is not clear who carried out the bombings but the Islamist militant group Boko Haram has carried out many attacks in the area.
The group has targeted both Christians and Muslims who do not adhere to their ideology.
The first blast, in Maiduguri, occurred early on Friday (October 23, 2015) morning as worshippers arrived for dawn prayers.
An eyewitness told AFP that there was one suicide bomber involved.
The second, larger blast targeted worshippers attending Friday prayers at a newly inaugurated mosque in the Jimeta area of Yola.
Thousands of people have been killed and millions forced to leave their homes by Boko Haram violence in recent years.
Nigeria predicts that Boko Haram will soon be defeated, but the militant group's ties with Islamic State mean that would probably push the fighters further into neighboring countries, writes BBC Monitoring Africa security correspondent Tomi Oladipo.
He said that the Nigerian military “has been in overdrive” in trying to control the narrative of its war against Boko Haram in recent weeks.
“It says it has cornered the jihadists and the conflict will soon be over - in line with its mandate from President Muhammadu Buhari to end the crisis by mid-November,” said Oladipo.
“Boko Haram's eccentric front man Abubakar Shekau has not appeared in a video since February, when he threatened to disrupt the elections.
The following month he pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group (IS) in an audio message and since IS also reached out to their Nigerian counterpart, Shekau has taken a back seat.
“Shekau has released similar audio clips to disprove reports about his death, although the fact that he is not visible leaves room for speculation among the army that they have killed him, as they have claimed on several occasions.
“His retreat from the forefront signifies that Boko Haram, also known as IS West Africa Province, now takes orders from the further up the IS hierarchy.”
Nonetheless, there was recently room for another message to once again defy the Nigerian government, which sparked the realization in the military that this game of cat-and-mouse was going nowhere.
Nigerian Defense spokesman Colonel Rabe Abubakar described Shekau as “irrelevant” and urged Nigerians “not to lose sleep over the concocted audio rhetoric of the waning terrorist sect which is a usual antic of a drowning person struggling to hold on to anything to remain afloat.”
Overall, Boko Haram's propaganda campaign has waned since the beginning of the year, when it used social media to promote sleek videos showing speeches and attacks.
The latest video, released to coincide with the Eid al-Adha festival in late September, is poorly produced and appears to show fighters praying but there is no indication of how recent all the footage is.
It has been two years since the US placed a $7 million bounty on Shekau’s head but neither he nor his top commanders have been found.
“As long as that is not achieved, the group will be able to rethink its strategy, recruit, rearm and develop new methods of operating.
The jihadists have shown that they can continue to inflict significant damage even with few but deadly explosions,” said the BBC man.
“In one recent triple attack, they killed more than 100 people in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, where they were formed in 2002.”
Boko Haram at a glance (From the BBC):
* Founded in 2002, initially focused on opposing Western-style education - Boko Haram means “Western education is forbidden” in the Hausa language
* Launched military operations in 2009
* Thousands killed, mostly in north-eastern Nigeria, hundreds abducted, including at least 200 schoolgirls
* Joined so-called Islamic State, now calls itself IS's “West African province”
* Seized large area in north-east, where it declared caliphate
* Regional force has retaken most territory this year
The global concern for the missing Chibok schoolgirls still gives Boko Haram a bargaining chip.
The BBC went on to say that the news of their abduction grabbed the world's attention in a way the deaths of thousands before were unable to.
The resulting scrutiny, as well as criticism from human rights organizations, means that the Nigerian military has taken a more cautious approach to the conflict than it did in the early days, when there were frequent allegations that the military was involved in widespread human rights abuses.
The new chain of command means that it is now more difficult than ever before for the insurgent group to agree to dialogue with the government
As the conflict escalated, Nigeria needed cooperation from its neighbors to secure the borders but this would inevitably come at a cost for Cameroon, Chad and Niger.
Photo captions: 1) The earlier attack in Maiduguri targeted worshippers during dawn prayer (AFP). 2) Boko Haram has sworn allegiance to Islamic State and often displays its trademark black flag (Boko Haram video). 3) The army has claimed to have killed Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau on several occasions (AFP). 4) Dan Wooding with Pam Christian on the "Windows on the World" TV show.
About the writer: Dan Wooding, 74, is an award-winning winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, and is now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for more than 52 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. Dan is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) and the ASSIST News Service (ANS). He is also the author of some 45 books and has a radio show (Front Page Radio), on the KWVE Radio Network (www.kwve.com), and two television programs all aired on the Holy Spirit Broadcasting Network (http://hsbn.tv/) based in Orange, California.