NewsWest AfricaNigeria: Military crackdown on Boko Haram displaces residents


Posted on Wednesday, 06 June 2012 11:52

Nigeria: Military crackdown on Boko Haram displaces residents

By Konye Obaji Ori

The Nigerian army on Tuesday carried out a crackdown of a suspected hideout of members of Islamist group, Boko Haram in the Nigerian city of Maiduguri.

Map of Nigeria

The monitored area was largely deserted of residents, alleyways were sealed off ahead of the military's evening operation.

"There have been at least eight explosions in these neighborhoods and soldiers have moved in with tanks and have taken over the whole area," one resident was quoted as saying by local reporters. According to eyewitness reports, explosions and gunfire rocked the city at 4:30 pm and stopped at around 9:00 pm.

Nigerian troops have been accused of abuses in Maiduguri, including burning homes and killing civilians in the wake of bomb attacks. So far there have been no reports of casualties, with the area still guarded and a curfew in place.

The military offensive follows a Monday warning by, Boko Haram that it would launch attacks on journalists and media houses.

Boko Haram spokesman Abul Qaqa, in a statement emailed to journalists in Maiduguri, threatened Nigeria's media organisations  accusing them of 'distortion' of facts on the recent confrontation between members of the sect and security forces in some parts of the Kano metropolis.


"This is a special warning to media houses and journalists who are now fond of exaggerating and giving prominence to false stories given to them by our enemies as it is sad that the media carry such reports word by word without removing or altering anything," read part of the statement.

"But when we issue statements and press releases, the media always look the other way, pretending as if they didn't get the message correctly."

Residents of Maiduguri have started moving from one part of the town to another fearing being caught in the crossfire between members of the sect and the Nigerian military.

Observers say Boko Haram's attacks have grown increasingly sophisticated and have affected a wider geographical area. The attacks have spread from their base in the extreme northeast to the wider north and down to the capital Abuja, in the center of the country.

Nigeria's 160 million people are roughly equally divided between a mainly Muslim north and a largely Christian and animist south. And there is a long history of tensions between the two regions, as well as the country's many ethnic groups.

Boko Haram's deadliest attack yet occurred in January in the northern city of Kano, when coordinated bombings and shootings left at least 185 people dead.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 06 June 2012 12:19

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