JSTF TAKES OVER SECURITY IN MAIDUGURI
Security was tightened in and around Maiduguri on Monday after suspected Islamists tossed bombs and fired on a crowded beer garden killing at least 25 people, security sources said.
Sunday’s attack caused one of the single-largest casualty tolls in the troubled northern city in recent months and coincided with the assumption of control of security operations there by a special task force of crack troops and other personnel. A military officer said security had been scaled up in the city following the attack.
“The JTF (joint task force) began operations in Maiduguri yesterday with the deployment of more troops into the city, including 500 navy personnel,” said a senior military officer who asked not to be named as he does not have clearance to speak with journalists.
“The unit is now in charge of security in the city and the responsibility of combating the spate of attacks in the metropolis is in its hands,” the officer added.
Two men riding motorbikes hurled three bombs into a large beer garden, fired some shots and sped away after the shock attack on Sunday evening, security sources told AFP by telephone from Maiduguri, capital of Borno state.
“The attackers, believed to be Boko Haram members, threw bombs and fired indiscriminate gun shots on a packed tavern at Dala Kabompi neighbourhood, killing at least 25 people and seriously injuring around 30 others,” a police superintendent said.
Emmanuel Okon, who sells charcoal-grilled beef on the fringes of the tavern, said: “I just heard a loud bang followed by sporadic shootings and plumes of black smoke filled the area with people screaming and running in all directions. “The wounded and the dead lay on the ground and the place was littered with broken bottles and glasses and… shoes,” he said.
When asked for further details on the attack, Mohammed Jinjiri Abubakar, the police commissioner for Borno State, declined to elaborate, saying that control for security had passed to the new task force.
The force, fashioned like the ones operating in the oil region of the Niger Delta and the sectarian clashes-prone central city of Jos, is tasked with combating the wave of bomb attacks and shootings credited to the sect members.
Boko Haram, which staged a short-lived uprising in 2009, has been blamed for what have become almost daily attacks and had hitherto targeted mainly police and military personnel, politicians, communities and religious leaders. It has in recent months also bombed police stations, churches and staged a prison raid.
The group claimed responsibility for the attack, 10 days ago, on the police headquarters in the Nigerian capital, Abuja that killed at least two persons, including a policeman, saying their target was the police Inspector General.
The sect also said it was behind an attack on a beer garden in a military barracks in northern Bauchi city that killed over a dozen people, hours after the inauguration of President Goodluck Jonathan.
Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is a sin”, launched an uprising in 2009 which was put down by a brutal military assault that left hundreds dead, most of them its members.
By: Free Speech
There were signs in Abuja on Thursday that the Federal Government will not negotiate with the Islamist fundamental group, the Boko Haram, as deployment of soldiers to Maiduguri, Borno State, have begun.
A top security source, who disclosed this to our correspondent, said 300 soldiers were deployed shortly before the June 16 bomb blast at the Nigerian Police Force headquarters, Abuja.
Boko Haram had claimed responsibility for the bombing that left eight people dead and 77 vehicles destroyed.
Our source added that arrangement had been concluded by the military high command to send an additional 500 soldiers to the state which has witnessed a series of violence perpetuated by members of the sect.
According to him, the Force headquarters incident which prompted a meeting between President Goodluck Jonathan and the nation’s security chiefs gave rise to the need to quickly send more troops to the state.
He explained that the troops were expected to complement the efforts of the men of the Military Brigade in Maiduguri, and the two battalions in Monguno and Bama, in ending the activities of Boko Haram.
The source said, “The first 300 troops arrived Maiduguri last week. I believe the arrangement to send troops to the state was even on the ground before the Force headquarters incident occurred.
“The blast only contributed to the urgency for the movement of additional 500 troops from different locations to Borno State.
“The troops will complement the efforts of the soldiers of the Brigade in Maiduguri, and the two battalions in Monguno and Bama. They have been given the instruction to flush out those behind the bombings and restore normalcy to the area without delay.
“Before the end of next week, the exercise will be concluded. Policemen are already there. Immigration officials are also many in the state.”
The source also disclosed that the government had approved the establishment of a Special Task Force in Maiduguri.
“The Joint Task Force will be similar to the one in the Niger Delta. It will be headed by a Major-General and Maiduguri will just be its operational base,” he said.
The task force will comprise, the Army, Air Force, the Navy, State Security Service and the Nigeria Immigration Service.
He said, “Apart from the deployment in the Army, many operatives of the Nigerian Immigration Service have been moved to Borno to ensure the effective policing of the borders and prevent the influx of people from other African countries like Niger, Somalia, Sudan, Chad and others into the country.”
When contacted, the Director of Army Public Relations, Brig-Gen. Ralph Isah, said the movement of troops towards the North-East was part of the plan by the Army for increased security in the area.
Isah said that the role of the Army was to make positive contributions in ensuring increased patrol and enhanced support operations in the North-East.
The Army spokesman explained that the troops were being deployed to the area because some of the units in the zone went for peacekeeping and were not operating at full capacity.
He said “Our plans is to support the security along the North-East; I am sure this deployment you are talking about is not unrelated to patrols at the borders.
“Remember that some of the units have gone for peacekeeping, and they are not operating fully, so we need to beef them up.”
The Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Hafiz Ringim, had on Wednesday reviewed the security situation in the country, saying the situation demanded collaborative effort of all the security units.