ISLAMISTS GAIN GROUND IN NIGERIA’S EMBATTLED NORTHEAST

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Sep. 2 (GIN) – Following fierce fighting with government forces, the insurgent Boko Haram captured new ground in Borno state – sending thousands of civilians into exile, along with soldiers, residents said.

“Just when you imagine that it cannot get worse for the Nigerian military and its pride as a fighting force, it takes a further dive”, observed Mannir Dan Ali, editor of the Nigerian paper Daily Trust.

“If confirmed, the capture of Bama, second largest town in Borno, would be an extremely significant development and would raise concerns that Boko Haram's next target will be Maiduguri, the state capital and home of a military base about 45 miles away, said BBC Hausa service editor Mansur Liman from the capital, Abuja.

The soldiers and residents fled on foot, many of them walking all the way to Maiduguri, residents told the BBC. Several troops were also reportedly killed by friendly fire in an attack by a fighter jet targeting insurgents.

Writing just before the latest attack, an essay appeared asking provocatively if the government of Nigeria wasn’t a greater threat to its people than Boko Haram.

Insurgent groups “observe the political and social corruption that exists in Nigeria, the ineffectiveness of the Nigerian government, and they use these sentiments to their advantage,” wrote Udoka Okafor, a student at McCallister College in Canada..

“They appeal to people's anger, especially that of youths and people drenched in poverty to form a base for their group. Religion is the ideology that fuels their insurgency movement, but illiteracy, and their frustrations regarding political corruption in Nigeria are the root issues that unite their base.

Okafor insisted she was not justifying the actions of the insurgent group… “We can argue all day about how horridly horrific Boko Haram is, and few people would disagree …. But the Nigerian government, in my opinion, remains a worse ill and a far greater threat to the Nigerian people, than any insurgency group.”

“(Their) policies encourage illiteracy, do not address poverty, and completely ignore, if not create and propagate, the social ills of this country.”

The northern state of Borno, bordering Chad and Niger, was the state where the militants captured more than 200 girls from a boarding school in the town of Chibok, in April.

China, France, the UK and US sent military assistance to help find the girls but they have not yet been rescued.

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