Monday, January 16, 2012

Nigeria: What Can Be Done About Boko Haram Militants?

Eurasia Review
15 January 2012

 – AnalysisWritten by: IRIN

As bombings and shootings by the militant Islamic group Jama’atu Ahlus Sunnah Lid Da’awati Wal Jihad – better known as Boko Haram – escalate, the Nigerian government appears to be struggling to cope with the violence, or map a political solution to the crisis.

The Salafist group grabbed attention in 2009 with coordinated attacks on government buildings and police stations in four northern states which left more than 800 people dead. The attacks were revenge for an earlier clash with the police, who had opened fire on Boko Haram followers in a funeral procession in the northeastern city of Maiduguri, which was widely seen as a deliberate attempt by the state authorities to crush the group.

The violence metastasized in 2011: there were bombings of the headquarters of the police and the UN in the capital, Abuja; more than 100 died in bomb and gun attacks in a single day in two towns in northeastern Yobe State, and Boko Haram promised strikes in the largely non-Muslim Christian south. In what seemed a deliberate attempt to stir sectarian unrest, a series of bombings on churches on Christmas Day in Abuja killed close to 40 people.

As Nigerians nervously consider what the violence could portend for the unity of the country, IRIN asked three analysts their views on the conflict, and the steps needed to resolve it. The following responses are from Innocent Chukwuma, executive director of the Cleen Foundation; Hussaini Abdu, a public policy analyst; and security specialist Hussaini Monguno.

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