mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
Africa's God Wars
Islamist, Government Violence in Nigeria Escalates

Since Friday, more than 150 people have been killed in attacks by both militant Islamists and government forces in Nigeria. The latest attack, allegedly by Boko Haram militants, killed 31 people. Reuters:

Gunmen stormed Mafa village in Borno, around 50 km (30 miles) east of the state capital Maiduguri, at around 8 p.m. on Sunday, shooting fleeing civilians and throwing explosives at occupied houses, witness Auwalu Gunda said.

State senator Ahmed Zannah said 29 civilians died in the raid and two policemen were killed in a bomb blast on Monday while they were trying to remove bodies and question survivors about the initial attack.

Twin bomb blasts in Maiduguri killed at least 46 people on Saturday evening while, around 50 km away, dozens of gunmen were razing a farming village, shooting dead another 39, as Boko Haram increasingly focuses on the civilian population.

This attack marks a new high for the death toll from a Boko Haram attack. The violence in Nigeria has been escalating ever since President Goodluck Jonathan launched a military operation in the Muslim-dominated north. The fact that government forces are poorly disciplined, badly equipped military, and plagued by desertions hasn’t helped matters. Witnesses report, for example, that Nigerian military planes have mistakenly targeted fleeing civilians.

While the violence has been contained to the north so far, there is a real danger that Boko Haram might link up with militants from Mali, consolidate their power, and spread the conflict beyond Nigeria’s borders.

Features Icon
show comments
  • gabrielsyme

    Aside from the failure of the Nigerian army to effectively combat the terrorists, I wonder if the understandable failure of Nigeria to advance a religious agenda is also contrary to the long-term peace of the region.

    On internet boards, one still occasionally sees the idea that we ought to conquer the muslims and convert them to Christianity. While rejecting forcible conversion, however, there is a good case to be made that publically arguing that citizens should disavow violence and terror by converting to Christianity. Such overtures should have the effect of clarifying the religious landscape – as a counter-argument, some muslim preachers and communities will clearly reject violence and terrorism; those that do not can be more clearly targeted for surveillance and infiltration. If missionary efforts begin to be effective, we can expect the muslim moderates to be strengthened – violence and terror will be seen as things that weaken Islam.

    We have become aware of the need for public relations in counter-insurgency and terrorism settings; yet we have barely engaged in the most important aspect of public relations in such settings- religion.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service