Over 100 dead in Nigeria in worst terrorist attack of the year

At least 110 people were killed on Saturday in Koshobe, near Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state in northwestern Nigeria. The United Nations issued a statement through Edward Kallon, the UN humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria, in which he announced that “armed men carried out an attack on civilians working in the Koshobe rice fields, causing at least 110 deaths and as many wounded.” This attack is the deadliest so far in 2020 in Nigeria, which has suffered the scourge of terrorism in this region especially since 2009.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack so far, so it is not known with certainty if the attack corresponds to Boko haram or the Islamic State in the Province of West Africa (ISWAP for its acronym in English). The United Nations does not specify it in its statement either. But nevertheless, Babakura kolo, the leader of one of the self-defense militias present in the region, declared that the attack bears the identity of Boko Haram, which already carried out an attack of similar characteristics last June, in which the balance was 70 fatalities . Members of the militia came across more than 40 bodies that were found decapitated, a figure that later rose to more than a hundred.

According to the 2020 Global Terrorism Index, which captures the situation and trend of terrorism over the past year, Nigeria had a notable decrease in violence compared to 2018, with a reduction in the number of fatalities of almost 40%. However, in 2019, Nigeria and Afghanistan were the only ones whose death toll exceeded the 1,000 barrier, a figure that is still too high. Waiting for the end of 2020, the year can leave us with a figure higher than the 1,245 deaths from terrorism left by 2019.

According to the OIET, the International Observatory for Terrorism Studies, Nigeria is experiencing a new growth in the number of terrorist attacks in October compared to September and August, 31 versus 22 and 17 respectively, with a greater prominence of the ISWAP group regarding Boko Haram. 2020 is proving to be a very active year in terms of the number of terrorist attacks carried out in the country if we take into account the figures from last year, 2019, when the peak in the number of attacks in the same month occurred in February, with 18 attacks.

Internal turbulence

Nigeria is experiencing a turbulent internal situation, in which terrorism is no longer the only cause of instability. The End SARS movement, which rejects the violence unleashed by one of the units of the Nigerian security forces, is affecting the situation in large cities, which together with the violence unleashed by terrorism in more rural areas such as those mentioned in the northwest, weaken the situation of one of the main powers on the African continent.

The Nigerian Armed Forces have long been deploying Operation Lafiya Dole, with which they are doing important work in the fight against terrorism, especially in the sanctuaries that both terrorist groups maintain in the Borno forests. The operation, which includes land and air means, is having important victories when it comes to neutralizing camps and seizing weapons, but it is necessary to remember that military action is only one of the ways to combat terrorism, and that resolution of the situation It also involves other avenues, such as the police and the judiciary.

This weekend’s attack in Koshobe, evidence that terrorist groups sometimes get out of the fight they maintain against the security forces, which are usually their main targets. Thus make visible their power and impose terror in the region, something that they do not always achieve when attacking locations or military patrols, as is the case in the other region of the Sahel that has seen an increase in terrorist activity, where the Burkinabe, Malian and Nigerian armed forces have less training and military resources. The insecurity of rural areas in the northwestern region of the country is one of the main problems that Nigeria will have to deal with to prevent the proliferation of Boko Haram and ISWAP.