At least 54 were killed and 90 injured in three bomb blasts in Maiduguri, northeast Nigeria – the base of the Islamist extremist group, Boko Haram – late on Sunday (20 Sept.).
The city had been free from attacks for about a month. Last hit by a bomb at the end of July, there was a skirmish with suspected militants on the outskirts in mid-August. A new audio message purportedly from Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau called the Nigerian army “liars” for saying troops had regained territory, as reported by World Watch Monitor.
Nigeria’s military said on Friday (18 Sept.) that it had recaptured villages and rescued 90 people in a process that involved the “continuous elimination” of the group from Nigerian territory.
“They have lied about us saying that they [have] retaken our territories, taken weapons and driven us away,” said the recording (posted online), which could not be verified. “They are actually the ones whom we have driven away. They are all liars.”
African Arguments has published an article attempting to explain why the group has proven so hard to eliminate.
Meanwhile, one of Nigeria’s most senior church leaders has suggested offering amnesty to Boko Haram fighters.
Cardinal John Onaiyekan, Archbishop of Abuja, told Aid to the Church in Need the majority of fighters were there “because they were drafted and had no choice”. Seventy or eighty per cent will “want to come out”, he said.