Nigeria: Islamic Radicals Gone Wild


June 21, 2011: The June 16 Islamic militant bombing attack was the first in Nigeria using suicide bombers. Boko Haram, the most active Islamic militants in the north, have, despite intense police pressure, promised more bombing attacks. The police say they will crush Boko Haram, but the Islamic radicals have been active for two years and have expanded the number and intensity of their attacks. Boko Haram is willing to negotiate a peace deal with the government, but only if Sharia (Islamic) law is strictly enforced in 12 northern states (out of 36 in Nigeria). This demand has been causing religious tensions in the north for most of the last decade. Some northern states are increasing pressure on non-Moslems to adhere to Islamic law. For example, some officials are no longer taking bribes to allow southern breweries to truck in beer for Christian (and Moslem) customers in Christian neighborhoods. This makes Christians, who are not supposed to be subject to Sharia, angry, thus laying the groundwork for another round of religious violence.

Boko Haram violence is not widespread in the north, and is increasingly carried out more for media attention, than to actually threaten government control. Islamic radicalism has proved incapable of ending corruption in the north, and its use to ban certain entertainments has caused growing anger.

Vigorous anti-corruption efforts have been underway for eight years now. Some $11 billion has been recovered, and over 600 people have been prosecuted. But much more money has been stolen in the past eight years (not to mention the decades before that) and most of those prosecuted escaped punishment. The corrupt officials are being hurt, but they are still winning.

June 20, 2011:  In the northern city of Kankara, on the Niger border, a dozen armed men (believed to be Boko Haram members) attacked a bank, took a large quantity of cash, gave a lot of it out to civilians before attacking a police station. All this left five policemen and one civilian dead.

In the Niger River delta, two policemen were ambushed while patrolling in a rural area.

June 19, 2011: Over the weekend, police raided known Boko Haram hideouts and meeting places in the northern city of Maiduguri and arrested 58 suspects (including some Somalis). Elsewhere in Maiduguri, Boko Haram gunmen fired on a group of men playing cards (something seen as un-Islamic), killing two people.

June 18, 2011: Boko Haram took credit for the recent suicide bomb attack in the capital.

June 16, 2011:  In the capital, a suicide bomber attacked police headquarters, killing five people. The bomber was believed to be a foreigner (Sudanese or Somali). In the north, near Maiduguri, a bomb went off near a church, killing four children. This was believed to be another Boko Haram attack.

June 10, 2011: In response to attacks on three police stations on the 7th, police have arrested hundreds of suspected Islamic militants, especially men thought to be attracted to Boko Haram.  



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