Home News Boko Haram’s Renewed Guerilla Warfare That Shook Maiduguri

Boko Haram’s Renewed Guerilla Warfare That Shook Maiduguri

Traders picking their pieces after the recent bomb blast near the Shenekan Gate at the Maiduguri Monday Market
Traders picking their pieces after the recent bomb blast near the Shenekan Gate at the Maiduguri Monday Market
Traders picking their pieces after the recent bomb blast near the Shenekan Gate at the Maiduguri Monday Market

Survivors in the ranks of the highly depleted Boko Haram sect contrived a renewed onslaught on three densely populated commercial outlets in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital last Saturday and left more than 100 people dead and many others with permanent deformities.
The simultaneous suicide attacks, said to have been carried out by women at the famous Baga Fish Market, the highly concentrated Monday Market and at the Borno Express Terminus on March 7, 2015 put an unprecedented pressure on the security architecture of Maiduguri, which is now home to over three million people.
Maiduguri, the former headquarters of the Boko Haram, has a remained a prized target for the vengeful assailants, who were chased out of the state capital in April 2013  following a collaborative effort by various security agencies and thousands of aggrieved youths, who later transformed into the ‘Civilian JTF.’
With their ouster from the city centre, the Boko Haram insurgents became lords after launching an unparalleled territorial conquest across towns and villages that encircled Maiduguri, those near the Lake Chad region as well as many others near Nigeria’s borders with Chad, Cameroon and Niger.
While Boko Haram fighters sustained a reign of terror in their captured territories in over 20 out of the 27 local government areas of Borno State, Maiduguri became the safest home for the displaced.
And the state capital equally remained the most endangered garrison habitation, highly fortified with trenches which the insurgents made fruitless attempts to capture by confronting Nigerian troops both at night and during the day for a fierce fight.
All the attempts failed, apart from occasional bombings in parts of the metropolis by suicide bombers that left many people dead.
With the coming of regional forces from Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger, pundits believe that Boko Haram insurgents were systematically dislodged from their occupied territories and surreptitiously forced into disarray.
Various incidents suggest that to a greater extent, their chain of command has been fragmented and sources of supply of food and weapons decimated.
However, pundits believe that as a result of their deep-rooted conviction in the course they are pursuing, fighters of the sect always have a way of remaining afloat, a style of instilling fear among the civilian population even during a period of glaring defeat on their side.
“What transpired on that fateful Saturday in Maiduguri was a clear case of desperate move by an indisputably sinking sect at telling the world that its men are still awake and deadly,” said Salisu Bakari, a retired major of the Nigerian army who closely monitors security situation in north-east.
Bakari said when the regional forces started liberating towns and villages from Boko Haram he foresaw what he termed “renewed urban guerilla warfare.”
“I actually see these skirmishes coming and they will be with us for some time,” he predicted.
“The remnants of the Boko Haram will continue to attack soft targets, especially densely populated areas in cities, not only Maiduguri in order to vent their anger…They never anticipated being dislodged from their safe heavens within a short of period, they thought they had come to stay and it would be rosy all through for them,” he added.
Weekly Trust recalls that the triple attacks in Maiduguri left in their wake, anguish, devastation and permanent scars on the lives of many people.
The first one at the Baga Fish Market, around 11.15 am killed over 30 people, including women and children who were mostly hawkers and those that earned their livelihood through hard labour.
Baga Market is the acclaimed biggest fish market in Nigeria which attracts patrons from all walks of life, including people from Niger, Chad and Cameroon along the shores of the Lake Chad as well as many others from the southern part of Nigeria.
“A woman who strapped herself with bombs was brought to the market in a Keke NAPEP (tricycle) and was dropped at the biggest and busiest entrance of the market,” said Habibu Usman, a grocery seller near the scene.
“Soon after the rider of the Keke NAPEP zoomed off, the woman went close to the unsuspecting people and the bomb went off … May she detonated it herself or it was remotely controlled from somewhere,” he said.
Mohammed Mai Kifi, a fish seller at the market said he counted at least 18 dead bodies at the scene: “Over 30 others were injured; I saw all of them before I fled.”
The blast at the Baga Market was followed by two separate ones around 12.05 and 12.20pm at the Monday Market, some four kilometers from Baga road also in Maiduguri.
Sources said two female suicide bombers carried the nefarious act at the crowded Monday Market which has remained a soft target for the Boko Haram in recent times.
“The suicide bombers killed many people and destroyed property,” said Tahir Mamman, who sells eggs at the precinct of the market.
“One went off near Kofa biyu and the other few metres away. The suicide bombers concealed the explosives beneath their flowing ropes and took many people unawares … you know, Monday Market is always busy especially during weekends.
“I think they deliberately refused to enter the main bowl of the market because the vigilantes are using metal detectors to screen everybody, they therefore killed women and dates (Dabino) sellers who carry out their businesses outside the walls of the market,” Mamman added.
An additional bomb, neatly concealed and hidden in a corner was discovered by traders who drew the attention of bomb experts who defused it, while another bomb-laden woman who was trying to gain access into the main bowl of the Monday Market was sighted by two vigilantes.
The youths, out of share bravery held the woman, forced her down and in the process the bomb strapped to her body went off and killed all of them.
While pandemonium and rescue operations ensued at Baga and Monday markets, a fourth bomb exploded at the Borno Express Terminus along Damaturu road.
The blasts, which went off around 1 pm reportedly killed car dealers who have their stands adjacent to the terminus, unsuspecting travellers, touts and hawkers.
One of the survivors, Alhaji Kadau, a dealer, said 12 of his colleagues were among the many people killed by a suicide bomber at their car mart.
“Only two of us at our car stand survived the onslaught with grievous injuries, 12 of our colleagues, whom we were seated together, are all dead. We got to know of their death after we recuperated at the hospital, really a calamity has befallen us,” Kadau told the governor.
At the State Specialists Hospital, a 12-year-old orphan, Babagana, a wheelbarrow pusher said he only discovered himself on a hospital bed after he was hit by shrapnel from the blast at the Baga market.
“I was conveying luggage for someone when the blast occurred … I did not even hear the sound, I only saw myself in hospital with injuries,” he said.
Babagana said he supports his mother with the earnings from the menial job he was doing before the incident: “I also save some money which I use to go to school.”
While the tension caused by the various attacks in Maiduguri was yet to die down, another Boko Haram kingpin, who was ferrying two female suicide bombers to Maiduguri from the direction of Damaturu in Yobe State, met his waterloo at Benisheikh, headquarters of Kaga local government area of Borno State when he and his accomplices were killed by the bombs they concealed in their car.
It was gathered that following an intelligence report, the suspects were flagged down by a soldier and two youth vigilantes, also known as civilian JTF, at a checkpoint, and during cross examination, the bombs in the vehicle and those strapped to their bodies detonated.
The soldier and the vigilantes reportedly sustained serious injuries while searching the suspects and were rushed to a hospital in Maiduguri.
Governor Kashim Shettima, the minister of state for power, Mohammed Wakil and the gubernatorial candidate of the People Democratic Party (PDP) Mohammed Imam and other stakeholders all condemned the dastardly attacks.
Even before he cut short his trip outside the state capital, Shettima issued a directive that all victims of the multiple attacks be treated free of charge in various hospitals.
The state commissioner of police, Mr. Clement Adoda, described the triple attacks as a surprise, stressing that though the insurgents were unpredictable, such simultaneous incidents were least expected.
Three days after, another female suicide bomber struck again at the Maiduguri Monday Market where she blew herself up and killed many unsuspecting traders and buyers.
Different sources gave conflicting casualty figures but were unanimous that the attack was a suicide mission perpetrated by a female in her early twenties.
The incident happened around 4.30 pm and caused serious confusion around the market while a deafening sound as well as a thick smoke attracted many sympathisers to the scene.
A senior security source said 18 people were killed, a vigilante said 34 while some volunteers who took part in the initial rescue operation said over 25 people lost their lives.
It was gathered that the suicide bomber hid three explosives under her hijab (veil) and approached a busy entrance at the Monday Market popularly known as Shonekan Gate.
Another bomb which was concealed and dropped by the road at Babban Layi, a business hub along Hausari ward in Maiduguri, was discovered and defused by security operatives.
Babban Layi is a centre for various businesses, including electronics, building and textile materials.
The insurgents are also on the prowl outside the state capital as they are intensifying ambushes on the Maiduguri-Damaturu road, the only surviving highway that links Borno State with other parts of Nigeria.
Just hours before the Tuesday’s attack at the Maiduguri Monday Market and the aborted one at the Babban Layi, the insurgents disguised as horse-riders and stormed the highway at Ngamdu, a border village between Borno and Yobe states where they killed unsuspecting travellers and snatched some cars.
In the last three weeks, the insurgents have launched about four similar attacks at the same spot, a development that prompted some travellers to call for reinforcement of troops and establishment of additional checkpoints on the Maiduguri-Damaturu axis.
For now, residents of Maiduguri are wary of visiting crowded places such as markets, motor parks and recreational centres even as observers believe that unless the Boko Haram insurgents are squarely routed from everywhere, the tendency is that they would continue to strike in cities.

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