Boko Haram attacks, takes over another town

Boko Haram's leader, Abubakar Shekau. (AFP)

Boko Haram's leader, Abubakar Shekau. (AFP)

After an attempt to capture Yobe state capital Damaturu was repelled on Friday night, terrorist group Boko Haram on Tuesday attacked and occupied another town, Askira, in Borno state, causing residents to flee.

The insurgents took over Baga in Borno state last week, where independent sources said more than 2 000 people died. The government disputes this figure, saying only 150 deaths are known.

Askira is a predominantly farming community bordering Adamawa state and 252km south of Maiduguri, the Borno state capital.

The insurgents, who were armed with improvised explosive devices, rapid propelled grenades and armoured personnel carriers entered the town in Hilux pick-up vans.

They burnt public buildings, including schools, police stations and vital infrastructure, cutting off mobile phone services.

Some of the displaced residents who escaped to Maiduguri told journalists that the terrorists struck in the late afternoon, pouring into the town chanting “Allahu Akbar”, meaning “God is greatest”.

Ahmed Umar, a trader who managed to escape with his wife and two-year-old daughter, said the insurgents engaged in sporadic shoot-outs as security agents ran for safety.

The term “Boko Haram” literally means “Western education is evil”, and the group’s mission is to eradicate it from Nigeria and to make it an Islamic state. 

Many residents of the town reportedly fled from the streets and market.

The police have confirmed the attack but the casualty figure is unknown.

Scanning machines
Meanwhile, the Inter-Governmental Action against Money Laundering in West Africa (Giaba) has resolved to install additional scanning machines at Nigerian borders as soon as possible to detect terrorism financiers.

Giaba is a specialised institution of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) that facilitates the adoption and implementation of anti-money laundering and counter-financing of terrorism in West Africa.

Giaba information manager Timothy Melaye said in Lagos on Tuesday that the move was to strengthen the organisation’s efforts at monitoring and tracking terrorism financing. In spite of restrictions on arms, Boko Haram is usually well armed and the Nigerian military has struggled to work out how the weapons are entering the country.

“Giaba will in 2015 be working with Ecowas member states to install more scanning machines in Nigerian borders,” said Melaye.

The installation of this equipment would make it much easier for law enforcement agencies to detect the illegal movement of cash from and into Nigeria, he added.

Nigeria says that halting the flow of equipment to Boko Haram would assist in weakening the insurgents.

The Islamic group’s first attack in May 2009, in Bauchi in northern Nigeria, was carried out with sticks and machetes. But today the group has evolved and in some cases is better equipped than the Nigerian military. 

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