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Paris Marches, Nigeria Burns by MzansiBeat: 11:26am On Jan 12, 2015
Toye Olori, Peter Fabricius and agencies

Lagos/Johannesburg - As the world’s attention was focused on the huge March for Unity in Paris, responding to the Islamist attacks there last week, Nigeria was reeling from a blizzard of attacks by the Boko Haram Islamist extremists that have killed an estimated 2 000 people over the past week.

In a new twist, Boko Haram is increasingly resorting to child suicide bombers to carry out its lethal attacks in the Islamic north-east of Nigeria.

On Sunday, two young girls of about 10 years old blew themselves up in mid-afternoon in an open market selling cellphone handsets in the town of Potiskum in Yobe state, killing at least three people.

The town has frequently been attacked by Boko Haram.

A trader at the market, Sani Abdu Potiskum, said: “I saw their dead bodies. They are two young girls of about 10 years of age… You only see the plaited hair and part of the upper torso.”
Copy of ct nigeria-explosion done Explosives strapped around the torso of a 10-year-old girl exploded in a busy marketplace in Maiduguri, Nigeria. Two more young girls suffered the same fate in Potiskum. AP

Another witness, who accompanied the ambulances taking casualties to hospital, said three people, excluding the bombers, were killed and at least 26 people were wounded.

The town was hit by a suicide bomber in November when at least 48 people, mainly pupils, were killed during a school assembly.

On Sunday, a bomb exploded at a police station in Potiskum, apparently detonated by a person arrested by the police. One policeman died, police said.

Sunday’s explosions came a day after a bomb, strapped to a girl aged about 10, exploded in a busy marketplace in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, killing 20 people including herself, according to State Police public relations officer Gideon Jibrin, who said 18 others were injured.

This is the third time that that market has been attacked by teenage or child bombers.

A Maiduguri journalist, who feared being named, said children were often asked to do errands for adults in this area and did so unquestioningly. He was sure they did not know they were carrying bombs.

Boko Haram has also carried out large military-style attacks on several villages and towns in the north-east over the last week, including Baga in Borno, on the shores of Lake Chad, where 14 soldiers were confirmed killed in a surprise attack on their military barracks. The sect has also invaded some villages near Damanturu, the Yobe state capital, about 130km away.

Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states have been the main theatres of war between Boko Haram and the joint military force comprising soldiers from Nigeria and neighbouring countries fighting them.

Reacting to the latest attacks and invasion of Baga and Damanturu, the Nigerian military said on Sunday that troops were still busy with mopping-up operations around Damaturu after successfully foiling and containing the terrorists’ attempt to occupy parts of the town.

According to the Director of Defence Information, Major General Chris Olukolade, the terrorists had launched a massive attack from different directions on the town on Friday evening, but troops were quickly mobilised to repel the attack that lasted the night.

He said Boko Haram had suffered heavy casualties before retreating. He said five soldiers had been seriously wounded but the number of civilian casualties was still being determined. The town was being reinforced with more troops.

Damaturu was last attacked in early December when air strikes were called in to halt advancing militants.

Olukolade said the military would regroup before mounting an effort to retake the town of Baga which Boko Haram had raided twice and occupied over the last week. On Friday, the government said it had launched ground action backed by airstrikes to reclaim the area.

“The Nigerian component of the Multinational Joint Task Force and more of the troops are regrouping for necessary debrief and briefing for subsequent missions,” Olukolade said.

The Nigerian government and military have been widely criticised for failing to protect civilians in the north-eastern states and the issue has become highly politicised ahead of national elections next month where President Goodluck Jonathan is seeking re-election.

On Sunday the presidential candidate for the opposition All Progressive Party, General Muhammad Buhari, slammed the government, saying: “It is high time the federal government reviews its counter-terrorism strategies. I am embarrassed by the fact that Nigeria has now become a sitting duck for terrorist attacks.

“This season of death must be brought to a complete stop.”

Many African and other commentators have been angered by what they regard as the world’s indifference to the massive Boko Haram atrocities, while focusing so much attention on the Islamist terror attacks in Paris, which killed 17 people.

About 40 world leaders joined French President Francois Hollande for on Sunday’s huge “March of Unity” in Paris in solidarity and sympathy with the cartoonists and journalists of the French satirical journal Charlie Hebdo and other victims of the attacks in Paris by jihadists apparently linked to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and/or to the Islamic State.

South Africa was represented by its ambassador Rapule Molekane.

The hashtag #JeSuisCharlie (“I am Charlie”) has gone viral and sympathy demonstrations are being held around the world, including in Johannesburg and Cape Town at the weekend.

Monyela tweeted: “The situation in #Nigeria though... fellow Africans dying daily in numbers. I don’t see any emergency UNSC meetings.”

“Has the world even taken notice?” tweeted Levi Kabwato. “Where are the African hash tags? The outrage?”

Cape Times
Re: Paris Marches, Nigeria Burns by MzansiBeat: 11:36am On Jan 12, 2015
Whilst Pres GJ was dancing in a political rally; over 2000 Nigerian citizens got maimed mercilessly by Boko Haram. Are human lives cheap in Nigeria? I don't expect anyone commenter here to say, leaders take interest when a few French are killed, but when thousand of Nigerians get killed they remain silent. The question should be what have you done yourselves? When did you organised even 50 000 people to a mass gathering?

Strangely so, none of all Nigerian news media platforms have carried a story on this mass killing by BH over the weekend and yet expect the world to take notice and act.

RSA, Europe, USA etc aren't the CAUSE. But the problem is right there in your own minds and hearts, which shape one's character then priorities. This will dictate where your political leaders' priorities lie, and that of your general populace. It is time that all should look inward first and less outward.

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