The fight against Boko Haram in Nigeria has begun to assume a curious pattern: Boko Haram attacks, soldiers respond, and army officials give contradictory accounts of the incident. This happened again on Monday, when Boko Haram attacked Maiduguri for the second time, pounding the city with 15 blasts from RPGs and IEDs. Soon after the attacks began, soldiers sealed off streets to the city center, where the explosions were focused. But reports on what happened next differ wildly. BBC News reports:
Lt Col Sagir Musa told the BBC the multiple attacks targeted locations used by the Joint Military Taskforce (JTF) in the city, the Islamists’ base.He said 24 militants had been killed but denied reports that civilians or soldiers had died.Witnesses say a primary school and a radio tower were set ablaze.
Which story to believe? Reports from observers are contradictory and hard to trust. The word of the Nigerian army is extremely suspect as well following its denial of an obvious shooting spree earlier this month that left 30 civilians dead.But one thing is clear—religious violence remains a stubborn and spreading problem in Nigeria. Boko Haram alone has been responsible for 1,400 deaths in the past two years, a number likely to rise. Nigeria has often surprised its own citizens as well as foreigners by its ability to hold together in times of crisis; let us hope that this happens again.