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Boko Haram Targeting Schools for Mayhem- Former Police Commissioner, Abubakar Tsav

July 9, 2013

Islamist extremists have massacred dozens of students in recent weeks in the north-east, opening a new phase in their insurgency despite a nearly two-month-old military offensive against them.

In the latest attack last Saturday, gunmen stormed a secondary boarding school in the village of Mamudo, Yobe State, where they rounded up students and staff in a dormitory, threw explosives and opened fire, killing 32 people, almost all of them students.
The gruesomeness of the school massacre drew widespread disgust.

A spokesman for President Goodluck Jonathan said those behind the attack “will certainly go to hell.” Military officials did not respond to requests for comment Monday.

The school shooting marks the third such attack in three weeks.

The insurgents’ reasons for targeting students are unclear, though some observers say they may be seeking to generate as much attention as possible through shocking tactics.

Some have called for the government to take a smarter approach in efforts to end Boko Haram’s four-year insurgency, warning that military force will not solve the problem.

Abubakar Tsav, a former police commissioner, said security forces should focus more on on-the-ground intelligence.

That should be accompanied by an honest attempt at dialogue, he said.

“In a situation like this, what should normally happen is government should be able to send plainclothes police and security men.

“If you go in uniform with guns, you will never get information. Go and find out who these people are and who are their sponsors,” he said.

Boko Haram’s insurgency has played out in various phases over the past four years, including assassinations of local leaders and security forces before moving on to more sophisticated attacks.

The insurgents have during certain periods focused on attacking churches with suicide or car bombings. They have also carried out suicide attacks on UN headquarters in   Abuja and on THISDAY, one of the country’s most prominent newspapers.

A rash of school attacks occurred in 2012, but they mostly involved insurgents burning school buildings at night and resulted in relatively few casualties.

But the most recent school attacks have specifically targeted students with deadly consequences.

On June 16, gunmen opened fire on a secondary school in Damaturu, the capital of Yobe State, killing seven students and two teachers. Two of the attackers were also killed, the army said.

A day later, extremists shot dead nine students as they sat for an examination in a private school in Maiduguri.

Two of the three recent attacks occurred in Yobe state, prompting the state government to close all secondary schools until the new term in September.

Abubakar Siddique Mohammed, a professor and head of the Centre for Democratic Development, Research and Training,   Zaria, feared the attacks would lead more children to drop out of school in the impoverished region.

•Culled from AFP

Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.

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