Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Bombing in Nigeria: Boko Haram Again

The major city of Kaduna in northern Nigeria is the scene of a suicide car bomb attack on Easter.   The car was turned away from one Christian church by a security roadblock, but sped to another church nearby, detonating after striking another car, damaging a third church, all during church services.  Various reports are still trying to consolidate the figures, but estimates could be as high as 50 dead.  Most of the dead appear to be motorcycle taxi drivers, beggars, and street vendors.

Shortly thereafter, another explosion was reported in Jos, to the southeast.  Injuries are reported, but reports are still preliminary.

The party responsible for the attacks is likely Boko Haram, though no claim from them has yet been made.  I expect the fact that the overall mission – maximized killing of Christians – was unsuccessful, and tied to the deaths of innocent bystanders, is the reason that the Nigerian Salafist terror group is silent.

Boko Haram, as I reported earlier, is a terror group that has been resurgent since 2009, after several leaders had been captured and killed by the Nigerian Army.  It is increasingly affiliated with other terror groups in North Africa: AQIM out of Algeria and al Shabaab in Somalia, and all three swear allegiance to al Qaeda.  Nigeria, the largest country in Africa by population and the largest oil producer as well (and a major oil producer on the world stage), is divided in half both in population and area by an Islamic North and a Christian South.

Boko Haram has been operating mostly in the northeast of the country in the past but is spreading westward into other Islamic areas.  It is said by some to be fractured into rogue elements though the core should be making gains to consolidate the organization.  This was seen in the recent abortive attempt by the British SBS and Nigerian Army support to rescue two hostages in Sokoto, in that a rogue element took the two initially but a move to transfer the hostages to a more central cell of Boko Haram precipitated the rapid rescue attempt.  An aspect to consider is that competition among the various factions in the meantime will result in increased terror activity, and a stronger organization will result should the group successfully organize.

Kaduna was the site of another suicide car bomb attack on the 1st Mechanized Division base in February.  A week following, a police EOD tech was killed trying to disarm another bomb.  In January, a coordinated assault on police stations and government offices in Kano to the northeast killed nearly 200.  A Christmas attack in the central capital of Abuja killed dozens, as they did the year before, and a suicide car bomb attack on the UN headquarters in Abuja last August killed at least 21.  In the almost three years since its resurrection, Boko Haram is responsible for at least 1000 deaths, and their optempo is increasing.

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