Boko Haram attacks continue despite recent arrests

by Onize Ohikere
Posted 7/02/15, 03:14 pm

The latest attack by the insurgent group Boko Haram left nearly 100 Muslims dead Wednesday night. A local government official said the militant Nigerian extremists killed 97 people as they prayed in a mosque before breaking their fast during the holy month of Ramadan.

Despite the attack, African authorities are reporting some success fighting the terrorists, announcing recent arrests of some Boko Haram members.

Security forces in Chad arrested leader Bahna Fanaye, alleging he trafficked weapons between Nigeria, Chad, and Cameroon, along with two others. A search of Fanaye’s home yielded weapons, documents, and communication materials.

In Nigeria, the military reportedly arrested a businessman who helped with the abduction of more than 300 schoolgirls from the northeastern town of Chibok last year. Dozens of the girls escaped but 219 remai unaccounted for.

Maj. Gen. Chris Olukolade, spokesman for Nigeria’s Defense Ministry, said Babuji Ya’ari headed an “intelligence cell” for Boko Haram while remaining a member of a vigilante group. Olukolade said Ya’ari also coordinated several attacks on the northeastern city of Maiduguri in the last four years.

But some analysts question reports of increasing arrests.

“What we have are statements by the military,” said John Campbell, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “In the past at least, they haven’t been very reliable.”

The Nigerian military claimed to have killed Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, at least three times, but videos show him still alive and making statements about current attacks.

Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Niger, and Benin established a Multi-National Joint Task Force this year to defeat Boko Haram. Campbell believes the recent arrests may be national efforts without links to the task force.

“For a multilateral effort to be successful, there’ll have to be a political commitment between the countries involved,” he said. “Working that out might take some time.”

Boko Haram remains in control of a swath of northeastern Nigeria roughly the size of Belgium and is responsible for more than 13,000 deaths since its insurgency began in 2009.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Onize Ohikere

Onize is a reporter for WORLD Digital based in Abuja, Nigeria.

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