Nigeria: Local Taliban Returns


September 16, 2010: So far, about 300 of the 800 prisoners freed by Islamic radicals on the 7th, have returned. Most of these men had nearly completed their sentences, and realized that, technically, participating in a prison break constituted another crime. But about 120 of the escaped prisoners were Boko Haram members, and they have not returned. In July 2009, there was an armed uprising in the north by Boko Haram (translates as "Western education is sinfull"), which consisted of an attack on a police station, to steal weapons and other attacks on non-Moslems and local officials. The police station attack was repulsed and at least 40 of the attackers were killed. Boko Haram was following in the footsteps of an earlier group called Al Sunna wal Jamma. In the aftermath of the attack, many young Nigerians, angry at the corruption and resulting economic malaise (and unemployment) joined in the violence, and carried out some looting. The police retaliated, arresting thousands of suspects. The police ended up killing 800 people, some of whom were innocent bystanders. But during the interrogation, over 30 Boko Haram admitted that they had travelled to Afghanistan and Pakistan to receive military training from the Taliban. Boko Haram wants to establish a Taliban-like government in Nigeria. This has proved difficult, because half of Nigerians are Christian or Pagan, and most of the Moslems are not interested in anything as strict as what the Taliban practice. Thus the Islamic radicals up north are a nuisance, not a threat. Since last year, Boko Haram was believed to still be active, and it was. The police have since discovered that the prison attackers were organized by some of the 95 Boko Haram members who were arrested last year and then granted bail. Since 2009, especially in the last two months, there have been attacks on the police and government officials, that were believed to be the work of Boko Haram. But some of this violence is the result of the usual pre-election violence. Major politicians, especially those trying to get elected governor of states, hire criminal gangs to intimidate, kidnap or kill political rivals and their supporters.

A two month old cholera epidemic has killed nearly a thousand Nigerians so far, and is now spreading into Cameroon, Chad and Niger, where several hundred more have died from the waterborne intestinal disease.

September 13, 2010: Over the weekend, police in the north arrested ten members of Boko Haram, as the search went on for the 120 Boko Haram who escaped from a prison on the 7th. Only a few of these have been recaptured.

September 8, 2010: In northern Kano state, officials have banned the use of motorcycles after dark. Gunmen, believed to be Boko Haram members, used motorcycles for drive by shootings of police, businessmen and government officials in the last few weeks.

September 7, 2010: Over 40 members of Islamic radical group Boko Haram attacked a prison in the north. After a gun battle with the guards, nearly 800 prisoners were let loose. These included over 120 members of Boko Haram. The attackers had assault rifles, explosives and pistols and killed five people (soldier, a police officer, two prison guards and a civilian) during the attack. They set fire to part of the prison and released most of the prisoners.

In the Niger river delta, police raided a gangster hideout in the swamps, and freed two Russian sailors who had been kidnapped from their ship last month, and were being held for ransom.

September 6, 2010: Four officials for the Nigerian football (soccer) effort in the recent World Cup completion, were arrested. The four were accused of stealing $8.5 million, money that was meant for the effort to win World Cup games. The Nigerian team did very poorly.


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