The rise of Islamist Terrorism in West Africa
With the middle-east being a bloody battle field and western countries focused on the fight against ISIS, we often forget that West Africa is experiencing the same violence and terrorism on a daily basis inflicted by its own Islamic extremist group: Boko Haram.
The Nigerian army is the main force active on the fight against the terrorist group, with French and British assistance as well as Chinese and Columbian help. But the Nigerian army who was once one of the region’s most powerful force is now falling apart and the fight against the jihadist takes a massive toll on the civilian population, forcing many to flee and find shelter in refugee camps.
It is one of these refugee camps that is the centre of the latest tragedy in Nigeria. On January 17th2017 a Nigerian military jets mistakenly bombed an informal refugee camp sheltering thousand of people displaced by the Violence.
Major-General Lucky Irabor, a local commander said that he ordered the attack because he was informed that a group of boko haram was hiding in the area. Therefore it appears that it is a combination of faulty intelligence and weak controlled aimed at guaranteeing that the airstrikes won’t cause civilian casualties that caused the disastrous mistake that devastated the Rann Camp. The government official couldn’t provide an exact death toll but at least 76 people were killed and 100 injured.
The bombing was the response of the increase of attacks by the terrorist group in the area. Less than three weeks ago the jihadist attacked the military post in Rann Killing 15 soldiers. On January 16 suicide bombers struck at the university of Maiduguri.
This “Regrettable operational mistake” as Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari qualified it spared off a lot of reactions in the western world, particularly on twitter. This incident didn’t go as viral on social media as the kidnapping of the 276 schoolgirls in Chibok in 2014 and it’s #BringBackOurGirls, but enough to keep raising awareness on the human tragedy that is taking place right now in west Africa.
Boko Haram also known as the Islamic state of West Africa province was created in 2002 by Mohammed Yusuf a Nigerian Muslim extremist. After the execution of Yusuf in 2008 the organisation fell into the hands of one of the most dangerous and bloodthirsty individual in this planet: Abubakar Shekau. Under the command of Shekau the terrorist organisation announced its allegiance to the Islamic state of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in 2014 and now controls a territory that extends from northeaster Nigeria to Chad by way of Niger and northern Cameroon.
Despite the army’s best effort to clear Boko Haram from the area, the group’s fighters are still at large just outside many of the north-east’s camps and towns. The Nigerian army will not beat them unless it learns how to identify enemies from their allies and protect their population.