Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

DEBATE

The Murderous Lure of Jihad: Tackiling ISIS and its Worldwide Recruitment

Read more

FOCUS

Republicans block Obama's bid to hike minimum wage

Read more

WEB NEWS

Calls for ISIS media blackout after execution of James Foley

Read more

WEB NEWS

Web users divided over Darren Wilson

Read more

WEB NEWS

Web users take on 'Ice Bucket Challenge' to fight ALS

Read more

ENCORE!

From Paris's Liberation to 'arresting' art in Avignon

Read more

INSIDE THE AMERICAS

Ferguson riots: Pressure mounts on Obama

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'The pen is mightier than the sword'

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Requiem for a recorder'

Read more

  • Two US Ebola patients leave hospital ‘virus-free’

    Read more

  • Hollande is ‘nobody’s president’ says former French minister

    Read more

  • Turkey’s Erdogan names foreign minister Davutoglu as next PM

    Read more

  • US reaches historic $16.7bn settlement with Bank of America

    Read more

  • Special report: Supplying Ukraine’s soldiers on the front line

    Read more

  • US forces tried to rescue slain reporter from IS captors

    Read more

  • Israeli air strike kills three top Hamas commanders

    Read more

  • France delivered arms to Syrian rebels, Hollande confirms

    Read more

  • Tensions high in Yemen as Shiite rebel deadline looms

    Read more

  • Interactive: Relive the Liberation of Paris in WWII

    Read more

  • French village rallies behind besieged elderly British couple

    Read more

  • Former Irish PM Albert Reynolds dies at 81

    Read more

  • Former Femen activist detained after fighting veiled woman

    Read more

  • Thailand coup leader Prayuth Chan-ocha voted prime minister

    Read more

  • Brazil’s Silva launches bid after Campos plane crash death

    Read more

  • Brutal IS beheading video sparks social media pushback

    Read more

  • US attorney general visits Missouri town after fatal shooting

    Read more

Africa

Nigeria orders 'massive' mobilisation against Islamists

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2014-05-13

A "massive" troop deployment was launched Wednesday in northeast Nigeria ahead of a planned offensive against Boko Haram, a day after President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in three states under threat from the Islamists.

Nigeria's military on Wednesday announced a "massive" deployment of troops to its restive northeast, after the president declared a state of emergency in areas where Islamist insurgents have seized territory.

A separate military source speaking on condition of anonymity told AFP that fighter jets would also be deployed to the region, raising the possibility that Nigeria could carry out air strikes within its own territory.

President Goodluck Jonathan issued the emergency decree in a broadcast late Tuesday, acknowledging for the first time that Boko Haram Islamists had "taken over" parts of Borno state, the insurgents' stronghold.

"Nigerian Armed Forces... have commenced operations to rid the nation's border territories of terrorist bases," a military statement said.

"The operations which will involve massive deployment of men and resources, is aimed at asserting the nation's territorial integrity," it added.

The emergency measures were applied to three states, including Yobe and Adamawa, but the offensive is widely expected to be concentrated in Borno, which shares borders with Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

Boko Haram, which says it is fighting to create an Islamic state in Nigeria's mainly Muslim north, had used Borno's capital of Maiduguri as a home base but its fighters have relocated to remote border regions following a crackdown in the city.

The area's borders are porous and analysts say that criminal groups and weapons can move freely between countries.

The military's presence in these areas had previously been limited, especially compared to northeastern cities like Maiduguri and Yobe's capital of Damaturu, where the military has blanketed the streets to combat Boko Haram.

In 1998, more than a decade before the Islamist threat emerged, Nigeria launched a multi-national force with Chad and Niger to contain criminality in the border areas.

But the force has proved incapable of combatting the emboldened, well-armed Islamists.

While it is still too early to quantify the scale of the operation, the president's admission that troops were needed to re-establish Nigeria's sovereignty makes the campaign one of the most significant since the 1967-1970 civil war.

"There's a real spiralling in violence...linked to an expansion of the resources of Boko Haram and an increase in the sophistication of weaponry," said Elizabeth Donnelly of the Africa Programme at the London's Chatham House think-tank.

Brutal clashes between soldiers and Islamist gunmen on April 16 led to the deaths of about 200 people in the town of Baga on Lake Chad, half of which was destroyed by fire during the fighting.

The military said the insurgents were armed with rocket propelled grenades and heavy machine guns.

On May 7 in the northern Borno town of Bama, Boko Haram gunmen staged coordinated attacks on the military and police killing dozens.

They stormed the town in a convoy of seven vehicles armed with heavy weapons, including anti-aircraft ammunition, according to the military.

Jonathan said the Boko Haram violence, which has left thousands dead since 2009, could no longer be treated as "militancy or criminality" but now amounted to "a declaration of war".

Some analysts warn that Boko Haram has been increasingly influenced by like-minded extremist groups, including Al-Qaeda's North Africa wing, but the extent of those ties remains unclear.

Kyari Mohammed, a political science professor at Modibbo Adama University of Science and Technology in Adamawa state warned that a military operation may not solve the crisis.

"The deployment will only spread the insurgency instead of containing it," he said.

Nigeria's military has been accused of massive rights abuses in campaigns against Boko Haram, with Human Rights Watch saying troops may be guilty of crimes against humanity.

For Mohammed, the emergency decree could pose further problems for civilians in the northeast when the widened military operation takes off.

"Soldiers have been given a blank cheque by the president," he said, warning of "more rights abuses".

The Boko Haram conflict is estimated to have cost 3,600 lives since 2009, including killings by the security forces.

(AFP)

Date created : 2013-05-15

  • NIGERIA

    Nigerian president declares state of emergency

    Read more

  • NIGERIA

    Deadly clashes between military, Islamic insurgents in Nigeria

    Read more

  • NIGERIA

    Boko Haram seeks instability, Jonathan says

    Read more

COMMENT(S)