Nigeria: Failure Is Not An Option


September 22, 2014: In the northeast (Borno state) groups of Boko Haram gunmen are increasing their raids around the state capital, Maiduguri. The raiding of towns and villages, which sometimes involves randomly killing civilians and always going after soldiers and police, is depopulating the area around the capital. About half the four million people in Borno state are now living in or very near the capital. A growing number of people in Maiduguri fear this is a prelude to an effort to take the city, or at least establish Boko Haram in the city again. This is the city where Boko Haram began and there would be some symbolism if Boko Haram could conquer the place.  The government has responded by replacing a lot of the senior army and police commanders in the northeast and telling the new guys that failure is not an option. This appears to have worked, although Boko Haram has helped by angering so many of the locals with their random killings. Moreover, in the few areas where Boko Haram has been able to settle down their rule has not been much more palatable. Refugees from these areas tell of capricious and cruel rules imposed on civilians and Boko Haram disdain for the suffering their presence causes. This is a typical pattern with Islamic extremist groups, who eventually turn the population they claim to be serving against them. The Boko Haram are correct in accusing the current government as corrupt and inept, but it is becoming clear that Islamic radicalism is not a better alternative. The heavy combat losses Boko Haram has suffered in the last month appears to have demoralized many of their gunmen, who are increasingly surrendering, sometimes with their weapons.

September 19, 2014: In the northeast (Borno state) Boko Haram gunmen attacked the market in the town of Mainok (56 kilometers outside of Maiduguri). Over twenty civilians were killed before the security forces intervened, killed at least 13 of the Islamic terrorists and drove the rest out of town. This went on past midnight and the army believes it killed over 40 of the Boko Haram men, many during the pursuit that continues into the next day.

September 18, 2014:  In the northeast a group of Boko Haram gunmen crossed the border into Cameroon and attacked in two places, killing four civilians. Soldiers responded to the first attack and after a few hours had caught up with the Boko Haram men, killed two of them and chased the rest back into Nigeria. One soldier was wounded. These attacks are relatively rare because of the quick and aggressive response of Cameroonian security forces. But the border area is thinly populated and it takes time to reach the site of an incident and chase down the raiders. The attacks are either for looting or intimidating some of the 40,000 or so Nigerians who have fled to Cameroon to escape the violence.

September 17, 2014: In the northeast (Kano) Boko Haram attacked a teachers college. This left at least 15 civilians dead and 35 wounded. The Islamic terrorists used two suicide bombers in the attack that was halted by the arrival of police, who killed or wounded some of the attackers as they fled. Most of the casualties were in the lecture hall where the two suicide bombers detonated their explosives.

In neighboring Borno State the army battled a large group of Boko Haram near Konduga (35 kilometers outside Maiduguri) and killed over sixty of them and captured dozens of weapons and some vehicles. Boko Haram was apparently trying to drive the security forces out of the town, where the Islamic terrorists suffered a major defeat on the 12th.

September 16, 2014:  The army has tried and sentenced twelve soldiers to death for a mutiny they participated in a month ago. This all began in the northeast (Borno state) where soldiers in an infantry company stationed outside the state capital of Maiduguri mutinied and refused to go out on patrol unless they got better weapons and equipment as well as more ammunition. This sort of thing was not a surprise to troops serving in the northeast. Pressure (popular, political and media) to “do something” about Boko Haram forced the military to establish a lot of checkpoints in areas where Boko Haram was believed to have camps and run a lot of patrols in isolated rural areas. In response Boko Haram found they could mass enough gunmen to attack these checkpoints and patrols with a fair chance of success. That meant lots of highly visible “defeats” for the army and a blow to morale because of the many dead and wounded soldiers. The army doesn’t like to discuss this very real conundrum and were hoping that one of their field commanders would come up with new tactics that would speed up the detection and destruction of the Boko Haram camps and the Islamic terrorists who depend on them. That happened, but too slowly for the mutineers.

September 12, 2014: In the northeast (Borno State) the army and local militiamen defeated a pre-dawn attack on the town of Konduga and killed over a hundred Boko Haram men. Truckloads of weapons and ammunition were captured as well as some vehicles. Boko Haram apparently planned to use Konduga as a base for a later move towards nearby Maiduguri. This apparently was to be part of a coordinated attack on the city. Boko Haram was surprised by the skill and suddenness of the army defense and apparently lost several leaders during the fighting.  Army intelligence had found out about the Boko Haram attack and commanders managed to organize an effective defense without alerting the Islamic terrorists.

September 9, 2014: Cameroon reported that it had intercepted and attacked a large force of Boko Haram gunmen crossing the border from Nigeria. Over a hundred of the Islamic terrorists were killed in the clash and the survivors fled back into Nigeria.






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