from Africa in Transition

Christmas Violence in Nigeria

January 4, 2013

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Sub-Saharan Africa

Terrorism and Counterterrorism

Nigeria

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Boko Haram-associated violence appears to spike around the major Christian holidays, especially Christmas. The Nigeria Security Tracker (NST) documents this trend in 2011. This year, according to the Nigerian press, the security presence was beefed-up in the North and holiday leaves were cancelled. This may have had a positive impact, as no large-scale terrorist incidents were reported.

Nevertheless, the media reports numerous small scale attacks, especially in Borno and Yobe states. For example, the press reports two suicide bomber attacks in Kano, but with few casualties. A pastor and five members of his congregation were murdered on Christmas Eve, and alleged Boko Haram operatives slit the throats of some fifteen men, women, and children in a settlement outside of Maiduguri on December 29. Though details are scarce, these killings may have been of Christians. Ansaru, possibly a Boko Haram splinter group, killed two Nigerian security officers and kidnaped a French engineer the week before Christmas.

Altogether, the media reported at least sixty deaths related to Boko Haram during the period from December 20 through New Year’s Day. Almost certainly the actual number of deaths was higher because the media and the federal government usually undercount casualties. That said, Christmas 2012 was less bloody than Christmas 2011 or 2010.

More on:

Sub-Saharan Africa

Terrorism and Counterterrorism

Nigeria

Wars and Conflict

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