- Tide of suffering in an unholy war
Jan De Volder
As the Islamist group Boko Haram is said to be surrounding the city of Maiduguri in the latest stage of its campaign of violence against Christians and Muslims alike, an expert on the country considers why the authorities are powerless to halt its progress
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The Islamist terrorist organisation Boko Haram is accused of killing 135 people in two days of bloody attacks in the last two days. Yesterday 118 people died in a double bomb attack in the central city of Jos. Today reports emerged of 17 people being killed in an attack on a village in north-east Nigeria, close to the village of Chibok, where hundreds of schoolgirls, thought to be mainly Christian, were seized five weeks ago.
Fighters thought to be from the terrorist group spent hours killing and looting in the village of Alagarno, which like Chibok is in a Christian-majority part of Borno state. Witnesses in Alagarno told the BBC fighters arrived close to midnight, and killed and looted for hours before leaving in stolen vehicles. One said that every single building in the village had been torched.
Dr Khataza Gondwe of the ecumenical rights group Christian Solidarity Worldwide, faulted the UK and the US governments for not designating Boko Haram a terrorist organisation until mid- and late-2013 respectively, “despite its evolution into a transnational organisation and regional threat”. This led to delays in supplying requested and “long-needed technical and practical assistance”, she told The Tablet.
A CSW contact in Nigeria said the reason so many attacks take place in Borno state was that the state government, which uses Sharia law, was leaving Christian areas are deliberately unprotected.
Paul Robinson, Chief Executive of another religious advocacy group, Release International, added: "This assault on Jos is clearly an attempt to reignite religious tensions in an area which has witnessed violence in the past, particularly in 2001 … It is also a chilling reminder of the fact that the bloodshed is not confined to the north of the country, and is in fact spreading ever-further south."