Nigeria: shock after massacre of farmers

Dozens of men and women were attacked by men on motorcycles while working in the rice fields. There are several terrorist organizations in Nigeria that could be responsible for the crime.

A bloody attack on farmers in the northeast Nigeria has shocked the West African country and the international community. UN General Secretary António Guterres condemned “the horrific attack” as his spokesman Stéphane Dujarric announced on Sunday evening (local time) in New York. Guterres hopes “that those responsible for these heinous crimes will be quickly brought to justice”.

Experts warned on Monday that military action alone would not be enough against terrorist militias in the region. According to the United Nations, armed men on motorbikes attacked men and women in rice fields in the village of Koshobe in the troubled state of Borno on Saturday. Dozens of people became the UN humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria, According to Edward Kallon, brutally killed.

Several suspected terrorist groups

It was initially unclear who was responsible for the attack. But it had the characteristics of the terrorist militia Boko Haram or its splinter group ISWAP, an IS branch. Boko Haram has been terrorizing the people of Borno for around ten years and has repeatedly carried out attacks in neighboring countries. The kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls in Chibok in 2014 was particularly notorious.

The attack in the village of Koshobe on Saturday and the sheer number of victims was particularly significant because of the “shock element”, said Akinola Olojo, a leading expert on the Lake Chad region at the think tank Institute for Security Studies (ISS) on Monday. The attack creates fear and sends the message that “Boko Haram and its factions are still active and deadly”.

Change of strategy: larger army camps

Nigeria takes action against the extremists primarily with his military. The Nigerian armed forces changed their strategy last year, as Malik Samuel writes from the ISS. Instead of stationing soldiers in small formations in villages, larger camps were set up. The military is thus strengthened against direct attacks by extremists – but the civilian population is less protected and the army’s reaction time is higher.

In areas from which the military has withdrawn, the extremists have expanded their power, Samuel explains. The groups control some villages and have set up checkpoints on important roads in Borno. This is an important source of finance: eyewitnesses reported that militia fighters were looting, blackmailing residents and kidnapping them for ransom.

Also a fight against ideology

Military action alone is not enough against the extremists. “This is a very complex crisis,” said Olojo, which makes the fight against the terrorist groups very difficult. “Boko Haram is adapting, changing his tactics,” he explains. In addition to military operations, the government must also fight the ideology of the groups and their abuse of religion, and involve the communities. In addition, it must also deal with the human rights violations in the course of the fight against terrorism, which fueled the radicalization of residents.

The violence in the northeast Nigeria and the neighboring countries of Chad, Cameroon and Niger have triggered a humanitarian crisis. According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), more than 2.7 million people have fled within their national borders and another 300,000 people have fled to neighboring countries.

(WHAT / dpa)

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