Nigerian Security Forces Search for Attackers Who Killed At Least 10
Scott Stearns | Dakar July 04, 2011
Security forces in the northern Nigerian city of Maiduguri are searching for attackers who killed at least 10 people in a series of bombings and gun attacks late Sunday.
The commander of the joint military task force in Maiduguri says attackers struck an open-air beer garden near a police barracks, one week after three bombs at a different beer garden in the city killed 25 people.
Major General Jack Nwaogbo says no one has claimed responsibility for Sunday's violence, which included the assassination of a politician from Borno State's ruling party.
The Islamic militant group Boko Haram is thought to be behind the attacks. The group, whose name means “Western Education is Sinful,” has carried out a series of bombings, assassinations, ambushes, and jail breaks across northern Nigeria in the last few years.
Boko Haram recognizes neither Nigeria's constitution nor the federal government in Abuja and says it is fighting to establish an independent country governed by Islamic law.
President Goodluck Jonathan has offered to open talks with the group, but Boko Haram has so far refused, saying it can not negotiate while security forces are trying to destroy it.
President Jonathan's new government gets to work this week with the re-appointment of much of his previous cabinet. University of Abuja sociology professor Abubakar Umar Kari says Boko Haram is its biggest challenge.
“Right now both Boko Haram as a phenomenon and as an organization constitute the greatest threat not only to security in Nigeria but perhaps the continued existence of Nigeria as one, indivisible country,” said Kari.
President Jonathan is a Christian from southern Nigeria who was elected in a vote that followed the country's regional and ethnic divide. Jonathan won most of the vote in the mainly-Christian south. His opponent, former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, won most of the vote in the mainly-Muslim north.
With attacks increasingly targeting non-Muslims at beer gardens, Kari says Boko Haram increases the risk of faith-based reprisals in a country where Human Rights Watch says at least 800 people were killed in religious violence following President Jonathan's election.
A written statement from the director of Borno State's security service, Ahmed Abdulhameed, says some politicians are hiding under the guise of Boko Haram to shield what he called “heinous criminal activities.”
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