■ Why insurgents are now desperate
From TIMOTHY OLANREWAJU, Maiduguri
ISOLATED bomb attacks on popular areas and uncoordinated movements of fleeing insurgents around areas they previously held, are the strategies being used by Boko Haram in its last battle to sustain its terror activities in the troubled northeast state, security experts and sources said.
These, they argued, are the similar method used by other international terror groups.
For many, especially in Borno, the Boko Haram birthplace, the six-year-old insurgency is almost at the end of the line following recent military offensives on the sect’s enclave and strongholds.
But a top security official told Sunday Sun that intelligence had shown the insurgents were daily evolving new plans to hype the violence activities, warning people against complacency.
“The insurgents are fighting the last battle of their life and from intelligence and antecedents of other terror groups especially Al Qaeda, remaining Boko Haram leaders will be urging their foot-soldiers not to give up easily. Those chosen for suicide bombing may be told they’re in for greater reward from God and as such, more volunteer bombers are likely. It’s just the terrorists’ survival strategy to keep their last battle,” the security source said.
Besides, the insurgents may also dissolve into smaller groups under different but local names “to carry out suicide attacks now that they are depleted and remnants not organized,” the source maintained.
As the military troops move into more Boko Haram hideouts, especially in Borno and Yobe states, there are indications that some of the insurgents’ bombers may have sneaked into the cities while fleeing the ongoing offensive at Sambisa forest.
Lending credence to this was the case of two suicide attacks in Maiduguri that occurred this week by suspected Boko Haram bombers.
First, a female bomber stormed a mosque at Sulemanti area of the city last Tuesday, and detonated explosive devices shortly after the early morning Muslim (Subhi) prayer, the first bomb attack in almost two months.
Expectedly, residents were indifferent to the bomb attack perhaps because only the bomber was killed but the reactions to the second day’s explosion last Wednesday were very sharp. This came barely a week after military authorities warned residents to be vigilant.
Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, Maj Gen Lucky Irabor, who spoke with journalists said the military was succeeding in its Operation Crackdown at the Sambisa enclave but urged residents to be alive to their environment.
“People should be more vigilant now than before and not just think everything is over. All of us have a duty to ensure the security of our land,” Irabor said.
Sunday Sun gathered reliably that the Department of State Security had also advised religious leaders and other stakeholders in the state to ensure their members or followers maintained high vigilance in their environment.
But barely a week later, a male suicide bomber targeting the State Secretariat located in the heart of the city, blew herself up at the gate, killing four people including two policemen. Residents were shocked by the development especially in a city that has witnessed relative peace since January. However, many believe that the complacency of most residents compromised security that gave Boko Haram bombers opportunity to perpetrate their acts.
Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima insisted the government would not give Boko Haram chance to resurface.
“Never again, we’re not going to give any chance to the lunatics again,” he said describing Boko Haram’s latest tactic as “a sign of weakness on the part of the terrorists.”
Acting General Officer Commanding (GOC), 7 Division Nigerian Army Maiduguri, Brig. Gen Victor Ezugwu said the insurgents were desperate having been routed out of their hideouts. “They’re out to create sense of insecurity but we won’t allow them to succeed,” he said.
As residents return to their normal businesses on Friday after the Thursday incident, many said they would want the security agencies to improve on their intelligence gathering to intercept bombers from causing more havoc across the northern states affected by insurgency.