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Complacency could stall gains against Boko Haram

22 August 2016, 07:43

Lagos - The Institute for Security Studies (ISS), a continental think-tank, has warned against complacency following indications of turmoil within the Boko Haram sect.

ISS also noted the weakening of the sect’s prowess.

Abu Musab al-Barnawi was recently appointed as new leader of the terror group, replacing long-time head, Abubakar Shekau.

It is believed the decision has sparked a power struggle between Islamic State-backed al-Barnawi and Shekau.

Omar Mahmood, ISS Researcher on Conflict Prevention and Risk Analysis, noted at the same time, security forces battling the militants had made large gains over the past year.

Research ISS conducted established that in 2016, violent incidents linked to Boko Haram have been limited to the three north-eastern Nigerian states that are currently in a state of emergency as a result of the insurgency.

The terror-prone states are Adamawa, Borno and Yobe.

The attacks have also been felt in neighbouring areas of Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

“Once a staple of the violence enacted by Boko Haram, the number of suicide attacks has also fallen,” said Mahmood.

ISS said slightly over 30 attacks were recorded between December 2015 and January this year. Five incidents were recorded from June to July.
The frequency of suicide attacks using women has seen a similar decline recently.

According to research South African-based ISS conducted, one female suicide attack occurred over the past three months, down from a high of 11 in July 2015.

“It is not unusual for Boko Haram violence to ebb and flow, but these nascent developments are a positive sign for the region,” said Mahmood.

Trends like continued reductions in suicide attacks are a positive development, but should not be seen to reflect the entire security situation in the region, Mahmood warned.

“While certain security indicators have improved over the past year in the Lake Chad Basin, a return to more direct engagements, combined with Boko Haram’s ability to push to new areas, like Bosso, shows that complacency must be avoided,” the expert said.

Mahmood said rather than signal a death knell for the movement, the latest leadership change in Boko Haram would likely result in additional modifications by an adversary that has proven highly adaptable.

“If recent successes and gains are to be sustained, this will require further adjustments by regional security actors.”

- CAJ News


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