Nige­rian army asked to boost re­sponse to Boko Haram

Muscat Daily - - WORLD -

Abuja, Nige­ria - Nige­ria’s mil­i­tary has been or­dered to strengthen its re­sponse to Boko Haram af­ter 69 peo­ple were killed in an am­bush ear­lier this week, the gov­ern­ment said on Sun­day.

Vice-Pres­i­dent Yemi Os­in­bajo held emer­gency talks with top brass to dis­cuss Tues­day’s at­tack, which tar­geted an oil ex­plo­ration team in the north­east­ern state of Borno.

The at­tack was the worst since Fe­bru­ary 2 last year, when 58 peo­ple were killed in a twin sui­cide bomb at­tack at a camp for the dis­placed in the Borno town of Dikwa.

Os­in­bajo’s spokesman Laolu Akande said the vice-pres­i­dent, stand­ing in for Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari who is on in­def­i­nite sick leave, called the at­tack ‘ap­palling’.

The meet­ing with com­man­ders on Thurs­day saw Os­in­bajo is­sue ‘fresh di­rec­tives... to im­me­di­ately scale-up their ef­forts and ac­tiv­i­ties in Borno state... to main­tain a strong, ef­fec­tive con­trol of the sit­u­a­tion’, he added.

The am­bush near Magumeri killed 19 sol­diers, 33 mili­tia mem­bers and 17 civil­ians, sources told AFP, while three staff mem­bers from the Univer­sity of Maiduguri were kid­napped.

Boko Haram pub­lished a video of the trio on Fri­day night in which they ap­pealed to Os­in­bajo to meet their ab­duc­tors' de­mands.

An­a­lysts have said the at­tack, ap­par­ently by the Is­lamic State­sup­ported fac­tion headed by Abu Mus’ab al Bar­nawi, was an in­di­ca­tion of a newly em­bold­ened Boko Haram.

Nige­ria’s mil­i­tary has long main­tained the group, which in 2014 held ter­ri­tory across north­east Nige­ria, is all but de­feated as a re­sult of its sus­tained coun­terin­sur­gency.

Os­in­bajo ac­knowl­edged that ‘pock­ets of ter­ror­ists have been launch­ing at­tacks re­cently in Borno state’.

But he said the gov­ern­ment was ‘on top of the sit­u­a­tion (and) will de­fine the end of these atroc­i­ties by both win­ning the war and win­ning the peace in the north­east’.

At least 20,000 peo­ple have been killed in the in­sur­gency since it be­gan in 2009.

The ex­plo­ration team from the Nige­rian Na­tional Petroleum Cor­po­ra­tion was hunt­ing for crude in the Lake Chad basin as part of ef­forts to di­ver­sify sup­ply and boost re­serves.

Os­in­bajo said the am­bush would not pre­vent the process.

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