Boko Haram terror escalates in Nigeria | Africa | DW | 04.05.2012
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Boko Haram terror escalates in Nigeria

Terror attacks against a university and a newspaper office, threats against national and international media: The Boko Haram terror in Nigeria is on the rise - and has gained a new dimension.

Shuaibu Usman Leman, secretary general of the Nigerian Union of Journalists refuses to be intimidated. But he is struggling to keep his composure: "We all are very concerned and irritated about this development. I see the attacks as a potential danger for the media and for democracy in Nigeria." Leman is reacting to the latest threats by Islamist group Boko Haram.

Imam Abubakar Shekau

Imam Abubakar Shekau is the head of the Boko Haram sect

On Tuesday, the group claimed responsibility for the attack against the offices of the Nigerian newspaper This Day on April 26. The attack killed nine people. Another worrying detail in the 18-minute video released by Boko Haram is that the group threatens to attack other Nigerian or international media companies.

Asked by DW about how media organizations in Nigera will react to this direct threat, Leman insisted it won't lead to any self-censorship. "There's no way we will stop reporting. We will continue to cover Boko Haram with the same level of professionalism as we've done in the past."

Terror attacks on the rise

So far, the targets of Boko Haram were the authorities, the police and Christian churches in Nigeria. Now, the attacks seem to be directed against the broad public by targeting office or university buildings. Adding to the terror is the simultaneous nature of the attacks, their frequency and their documentation on film and video.

Bayero University

One of the attacks targeted Kano's Bayero University

According to Klaus Pähler, head of the German Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) in Nigeria's capital Abuja, this adds a new level to the terror. "This is a very worrying frequency of attacks and they are very efficient. Terrorism in Nigeria has dramatically increased over the course of the last year. Especially the technology that they are using is getting more sophisticated - and that means the it's much more of a danger for us."

The Nigerian government however does not seem to have a clear plan. Security forces are trying to track down a very elusive enemy. In a raid on alleged Boko Haram members in the north of the country, one man was killed. During the search of a hideout of the group in the city of Kano, three women and two children were arrested.

More than just a religious agenda

This points towards a further escalation of the crisis, says Klaus Pähler. "The president and several high ranking officials have come out saying the problem would be solved in three months." But since then, the number of attacks has significantly increased, Pähler points out. "Right now, it doesn't look as if the country's police and security service can bring the situation under control."

Pähler says the conflict is about more than just religion as Western media reports often seem to suggest. It is much more about ethnic conflicts, access to resources and power. Religion is often exploited for those other goals. "Of course, there are also cases of Christians being persecuted and churches being attacked. But it's less a religiously motivated conflict and rather an attempt to create and stir up a crisis."

Author: Stefanie Duckstein, Greta Hamann / ai
Editor: Nicole Goebel

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