WASHINGTON – The Nigerian government’s offensive against the Islamist militant group Boko Haram is in its third week, and this past week resulted in at least 3 militants dead and 25 arrested.
Reuters reports Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in the Boko Haram-occupied northeastern states and this national offensive aims to crush the four-year rebellion in its tracks.
Nigeria has also asked neighboring Niger for help in crushing Boko Haram, as AIM reported earlier this past week.
The Boko Haram strongholds are located in the northeastern desert region, which borders the countries of Cameroon, Niger and Chad. Security sources, according to Reuters, say that soldiers of these countries are also involved in the anti-Boko Haram offensive. It is a growing trend of countries fighting Islamist insurgencies, such as France’s intervention in Mali and Algeria’s hostage crisis.
The current conflict shows the split among Nigerians, with Muslims and Christians evenly divided among the population. The majority of Muslims live in the northern region and Christians in the south.
The military offensive has cut cell phone service and other communication services and the military has imposed a curfew. Reuters notes that it makes it more difficult for civilians to have access to food, water and healthcare in one of the poorest parts of Nigeria. Human rights groups are also concerned about torture and extra-judicial killings by the military, which the military strongly denies.